Within this essay i will review 3 books, one that is a poor example of gender representation (highly stereotyped) and 2 that challenge gender stereotypes- but in different ways. This will give me a chance to see what i could be avoiding as an illustrator when representing gender, and ways in which i could represent gender on a fairer level.
Ways in which “Princess Evies Ponies” Illustrated by Sophie Tilley, adheres to rigid stereotypes of traditional femininity:
- use of pink ( colours are in general of a pastel shade, is this implying that colours suitable for females should be passive and inoffensive?)
- over embellishment with glitter and “Sparkles” to the extent that the purpose of the image is obscured, are all of these embellishments necessary or do they take away from the message the image is trying to give?
- the type used in the title, is typically feminine with use of flourishes and curls but is very thin, not bold or striking and in a “shiny” printing style that makes it more difficult to read in certain lights, again implying that type for females is not as bold and eye catching as those on male orientated books
- the young girls, although not sexualised in the style of drawing, are all the same in the face and body type. the only difference is hairstyle and clothes, and “Evie” is wearing a tiara. This implies that there is a “perfect” image for a little girl, and although she does embody that of a child her attire is overly traditional ( wearing a pink gown to clean out horses, highly impractical)
- the type used throughout the book is just slapped on the page, in a bland font in simple black that does not add anything to the pages, it doesnt seem well thought out or a very imaginative choice
Mans Work- Created by Illustrator Annie Kubler
This is a picture book, created for younger readers and it has no words other than the title. This is one of the things that drew me to this example because i can analyse the book for solely its illustration’s and what messages are delivered through imagery. This book challenges gender stereotypes, but those aimed at men which is not a common occurrence even in modern day children’s literature.
- The only type used, the cover title, is in a type that defies stereotypes by having both masculine and feminine characteristics. It is a bold type, in black that stands out against the yellow background which is determined as more of a masculine type, yet it is thin and has some flourishes present that are feminine attributes in typography.
- the illustrations are in gender neutral colours, it ignores the common argument of “pink for girls and blue for boys” by avoiding overuse of those colours. They are also drawn in a manner that is bright, yet soft lines and a lack of strong outlining makes these appear friendly which suits her target audience of young children.
- the child is illustrated in a manner that makes he/she androgynous, it is then up to the reader to decide whether the child is male or female. It is dressed in gender neutral colours of red and green, and most importantly looks just like a child, without any ideas of beauty thrown in and this is an excellent example to set because a child of that age should not be prettied up in any way.
- What i most like about this book, is that the lack of words leaves all interpretation up to the reader.
- it also breaks the common stereotype that the female is the only nurturing/ domestic parent in a childs life. Yet the book does not state whether the father is a stay at home parent, or whether this is a one off and this can be left up to the child. It stays away from giving pre-conceived ideas as to what parents do what .
- the toys shown in this book, also adhere to the idea of the child being able to be male or female. on the front cover alone it shows dolls, soft toys, toy trains and toy cars, a variety that can allow a child to think they are not confined by gender to a specific kind of play.
The third and final book i will analyse is Pearl Power- created by Mel Elliott. Mel is also an illustrator and this is the first children’s book she has written and illustrated, and it is inspired by her feisty daughter pearl. This book promotes feminist ideas, but using kindness as well as empowerment and is a fantastic new example of where modern childrens literature could be heading.
- Pearl power avoids the issue of masculine/ feminine color stereotypes by using a very unexpected color palette of greys, oranges, whites and yellows, with the occasional dash of green. But i found this color palette very surprising and it is a welcome change that a story aimed at females is not pink and/or glittery and is very bold.
- she uses a style of illustration reminiscent of 1950’s graphic design, creating an ironic contrast as the 1950’s were an age of oppression for female growth and development in the career world.
- the typography is as bold as any book aimed at boys, with a strong orange outline and no use of curves or flourishes except for on the “R”‘s.
- pearl is depicted as a simple image showing what is clearly a child, something that can be hard to achieve in illustration is showing a child in a way that doesn’t emphasize any ideas of modern beauty. she is also a very tiny girl compared to her new classmates, yet in her successes and her feats of strength and wit shown in the book it sets a good example to young girls that may feel inferior to their sometimes taller male counterparts
- i love this book quite honestly, its a fantastically funny story with great bold imagery that should be a direction that proves very popular from now on in creating empowering children’s stories, i am also looking forward to her creating a series.