S4L Book Club – Garmann’s Summer and Street

Our discussion leader in September is Harriet. She’s a very creative embroiderer, knitter, painter, and photographer, among other things. She loves shibas and books. She lives in Norway, and English is her second language. She communicates very well without my help, and the regulars here enjoy her “voice,” so I won’t be editing. Much. Just my usual butting in and puttering about.

Stian Hole was born March 20, 1969. He is a Norwegian Graphic Designer and Illustrator. He has worked with, Packaging, Logos, Company Branding, Thypography, Stamps Design, Book Covers, and he is a writer of books for children.

I found this in an old interview in a Newspaper: “In the books about Garmann he uses digital photos, also of himself and his children. He uses a time-consuming technique to make his own special visual style. He uses known bits and pieces and puts them together in new ways to make them melt together in seamless montages.”

In these two books about the young boy Garmann, do the text and the pictures tell the same story? Are the pictures and the text tools, companions, elements in the books that give the story a meaning to the viewer/the reader? In what way are they connected or disconnected?

Categories: Reading

3 replies »

  1. Do the pictures and text tell the same story? What an interesting question!

    As a writer, I’ve learned that the goal of a picture book is to have the text and illustrations tell a story together. The text doesn’t need to describe all kinds of details the way a novel does because the illustrations fill in many of those details. I once heard a rumor that an author wrote a story about a child and was surprised to find his/her main character turn up as an animal in the illustrations. Often, when a pb is written and illustrated by two different people, they don’t communicate or share ideas. The writer writes, and the illustrator is free to interpret the writing and add his/her perspective. Sometimes, illustrations can provide a whole separate but connected story line.

    In this case, however, I do think the story and illustrations tell the same story. I think the illustrations mostly fill in details, rather than add extra elements to the story. I’d say they’re companions in the story.

    Do the pictures add meaning? Another great question. Do they? I’m not sure. I think they somehow make the story more complete by adding the details, but I’m not convinced they add *meaning.* Maybe they can be said to enhance the meaning of the text. They add a tone or mood; I think the tone would be different if Beatrix Potter were illustrating. They add interest.

    What do you think?

  2. I think Jen’s got it right when she says that the illustrations are companions to the story. Some of them help me to see the world through Garmann’s eyes, or to see how Garmann interprets idiomatic expressions, or how he fantasizes (especially the image of Auntie Ruth on his skateboard!).

    I don’t think the illustrations add meaning; rather, I think they help provide a broader view. Definitely, they add to the mood. I *feel* his summer when I look at the pictures.

  3. #I will start with a little teaser:
    If you ever read “Garmann’s Secret”: Take a look at the book shelf in Garmann’s room: it is in the picture where he is at sleep and his mother is looking out the window. Some of the books have readable labels, and are indeed real books to be read. My friend has investigated this with a magnifying glass, just like a detective or like Nancy Drew. 😉

    #Stian Hole is in total control of the text, the book and the layout, the book covers, the layout of the book, and everything!

    In my opinion this is the essence of the Hole Universe: the illustrations and the text in all the three books are very coherent, coexistence and fit each other’s like a hand in a glove (the right size).

    #My friend the book critique expert tells me that this is not the case in every picture book. A book may often have the text from a writer and pictures from another person. In one case she has detected a little private statement from the illustrator: putting some peculiar books in the bookshelf in one of the picture. In this example they do not at all tell the same story.
    It showes the disagreements between the two parties: the writer and the illustrator.

    #In “Garmann’s Summer” there is a picture where Garmann is in the secret room in the hedge. This is to me some sort of out of place. I just wonder why the darkness in the picture and the theme of death has so much space. Is this book about the big and deep existential theme of death? Or is it about being afraid of going to school?

    #The illustrations in “Garmann’s Summer” are considered as pioneering work. I think that the text is not.

    #I think that these books are dependent of these illustrations. I may be frank to say that I do not think they would have won so many prizes if the illustrations had been made the traditional way.

    #I like the way the pictures show the literary thinking from a child perspective.

    #I think that in these books the text and the illustrations tell the same story. And I think they give the moods and feelings from the text a very good visual statement: it is almost as I can hear the birds sing in the trees, and the old ladies chattering and laughing.