NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1271575
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2020
Pages: 14
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1521-7779
An Investigation of Color Shifts in Picturebooks
Martinez, Miriam; Harmon, Janis; Hillburn-Arnold, Margaret; Wilburn, Marcy
Journal of Children's Literature, v46 n1 p9-22 Spr 2020
Children's literature scholars have written about the importance of color in the visual texts of picturebooks: Color can establish mood, provide clues to the emotional states of characters, highlight particular objects in illustrations, and signal links between characters and/or objects (e.g., Lewis, 2001; Moebius, 1986; Nodelman, 1988). However, in this investigation, the authors were interested in illustrators' use of distinctive shifts in color and the ways in which these shifts contribute to storytelling. The authors define shifts in color as purposeful transitions or changes in the illustrator's choice of color palette--for example, a shift from a warm to a cool color scheme, a shift in the saturation of a single color, or a shift from a full color palette to a monochromatic one. The purpose of this content analysis was to examine how distinctive color shifts in picturebooks contribute to story development. To identify picturebooks for this study, the following criteria was used: (1) a book had to be a narrative, either a fictional story or a biography; (2) the book had to be of high quality, determined by having received an award or positive reviews from major review sources, such as "Kirkus Reviews," "Booklist," and "Hornbook Magazine;" and (c) a distinctive shift in color had to be evident in at least one illustration in the visual narrative. The analysis has shown that color shifts can be important in the development of character and setting. However, in the corpus of books, such shifts were particularly valuable in serving as a source of information for developing plot. Of particular note, color shifts offered clues to alternative plot structures, including flashbacks, movement from reality into an imagined world, or stories within a story. They were also essential in signaling dramatic turns of events, and this was particularly the case in wordless picturebooks.
Children's Literature Assembly. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A