Specialist literature: helmut spanner – all about the cardboard picture book

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Specialist literature: Helmut Spanner – All about the cardboard picture book

Cardboard picture books are the first literary works with which toddlers and toddlers come into contact and occupy themselves. What are good cardboard picture books? How do children perceive pictures? How should illustrations of high quality cardboard picture books be structured? Helmut Spanner follows all these questions in his exam work, which is now open to the general public.

The world is fascinating. For toddlers and toddlers, it is initially full of riddles: how does metal feel? Does the brush tickle? How exactly do you use this round thing when eating? What is the name of this animal? The caregiver makes a certain sound. Only a little later does the child grasp and grasp the thing by its name. Perception in young and small children occurs through all senses. Little by little little people are conquering their environment. The children take a big step with their first book experiences. The real three-dimensional, palpable, audible, smell and palpable world is represented in a two-dimensional one. The cat that just just stroking the legs, the child now sees in the book. It touches and feels. not soft hair, but paper. It sees a familiar thing and feels something completely different. No wonder the child bites into the book.
The children’s book illustrator Helmut Spanner has been preoccupied with this great challenge to the child’s ability to abstract and the key function of the cardboard picture book since his artistic training at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts in the 1970s. In working groups, in discussions with colleagues, in close observations of the children and through specialist reading, he followed the questions, how is early childhood perception, what constitutes a good cardboard picture book, how should it be structured, which illustration techniques support the children in visual perception, which role plays the cardboard picture book in the literary experience of a toddler etc. He ultimately wrote his final thesis on it "All about the cardboard picture book" 1976, which the Burckhardthaus publishing house now makes available to the general public by means of a reprint.
This paperback, thin volume is a real revelation in children’s literature even after more than 40 years and must not be underestimated. Helmut Spanner follows the topic consistently, clearly arguing, clearly demonstrating, easy to understand in eight chapters. It shows very clearly how toddlers see the world, feel it. He vividly and emphatically shows this little child’s high level of abstraction in recognizing real things from his environmental experience in the two-dimensional book – a child who, in active language use, often communicates with one or two word phrases with difficulty! Spanner explains very specifically the criteria for a high-quality picture book, not only in the illustrations, but also in the choice of topics, in the conception, in the choice of colors, in the style of illustration, in the composition of the pictures. He shows positive and negative case studies using two or three selected, then current cardboard picture books.
This emphasis is just a Foreword by Publisher Gernot grains added. Spelling mistakes were corrected every now and then. Otherwise there are no further interventions. After the impressive, instructive reading that shows the world to the child, his perception and the role of good or bad cardboard picture books, you can see many a children’s book with more critical eyes: it actually serves the child or just the publishing anger of the publisher?
At the end of the reading, one would like to know more about the origin of the work, its circumstances, Spanner’s motivation to devote itself precisely to this topic in artistic training and throughout his successful career. Such additions would have been the icing on the cake, which may come in a further edition.
Nonetheless, the specialist reading is "All about the cardboard picture book" a must, a basic work for all early childhood education and training, for lecturing in publishers, in books and librarian training. It is an important step for the publisher to have this work published again today! Thank you for this, as well as Helmut Spanners’ lovingly devoted child, which is shown in his books, indeed in his attitude to life. It should definitely be in every library, in every children’s book publisher and in every kindergarten!

Helmut Spanner – All about the cardboard picture book
Burckhardthaus, Munich 2018
ISBN: 978-3963046001
Features: 64 pages, paperback
Price: € 14.95

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Christina Cherry
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