This article examines more than forty metafictional picturebooks and proposes a meaningful typology based on their narrative features. Unlike adult metafiction, metafictional picturebooks convey self-referentiality on a dual level: the verbal and the pictorial. The article identifies five types of metafictional picturebooks and explores the various ways they complicate narrative games. The metafictional self-begetting picturebook is being crafted as it is being narrated. It often features extradiegetic verbal and visual narrators (narrators outside the story who use linguistic and pictorial elements) with intradiegetic visual narrators (narrators inside the story who use pictorial codes) and employs numerous examples of pictorial metalepsis. The you-book implicates the reader by direct address, deixis, or narrators who stare beyond their books’ confines. The second-person address is directed to either a homocommunicative or heterocommunicative narrator. The book about telling and illustrating stories concentrates on narrative engagement, providing metanarrative commentaries on the process of telling or illustrating stories. The metafictional book-within-a-book toys with narrative embeddedness and complicates ontological zones. Meaning is often negotiated in four levels: the visual and verbal narratives of the primary text and the visual and verbal narratives of the sub-text. Finally, metafictional parodies combine the modes of parody with metafiction to comment on existing works of art and invite reconsideration of conventional structures. While most scholarly work on metafiction in children’s literature concentrates on individual texts, this study aims to create a theory of metafiction that gathers texts based on their narratological qualities. Whether such books pose philosophical challenges or are meant as pure entertainment for children, they make up the complex web of children’s metafiction.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 355-374
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.