Metafiction crazy with Emma Yarlett and Nibbles the Book Monster
There is a new terror on the block and his name is Nibbles. The star of Emma Yarlett’s latest picturebook, Nibbles the Book Monster (Little Tiger Press) has a serious issue when it comes to nibbling anything he can get his hands on, with a particular penchant for books. So much so that he is nibbling his way through this very book right now, leaving complete pandemonium behind as he rampages through traditional stories while the reader desperately tries to catch up with him.
Ingenious, colourful, ludic and full of metafictive and intertextual fun, this book demands to be read aloud, over and over again. Yarlett’s elaborate paper engineering keeps readers engaged all the way, and though the lovable rogue might not learn his lesson at the end, it is refreshing to meet such a spunky book lover. Nibbles the Book Monster is full of all the joys that us picturebook enthusiasts feel every time we open a book, and it is utterly infectious too.
Nibbles the Book Monster is a metafictive picturebook; what inspired you to choose this genre?
Nibbles accidentally nibbled his way into the metafictive genre. The first idea for Nibbles the Book Monster was only that he would nibble his way through his own book. So still a tad meta, but not to the extremes of what the book became. The idea for Nibbles to leave his own book and seek greener pastures was a sort of natural progression… giving him the chance to sink his little teeth into more books… and giving me even more of an opportunity to go ‘book wild.’ So ultimately the inspiration for metafiction came from little Nibbles himself!
How did you plan where and how you would include the “book within the book” features?
Planning where to pop in all of the ‘book within a book’ features require a great deal of… planning!
Even where to initially introduce the idea required much thought; the storyline had to have progressed enough to have thoroughly introduced Nibbles and his character, but not too late that the reader was expecting something to happen… I really wanted to catch the reader off guard.
Once that was sorted, we were able to get really stuck into the ‘book with a book’ idea. It made sense to jump to a new book with every page turn to keep the story moving onwards. It was then on to the gargantuan task of planning where each ‘book within a book’ would sit on the page. Needles to say this required a lot of paper, bins and brain squeezing. There is an obvious relationship between each book in the storyline (Nibbles!), but also a very physical relationship between every single page… if any element within the page (even in the mini books!) were to be moved, there would be a chain reaction of further movements suddenly and rather painfully necessary. This meant that the planning and sketching time of these ‘book with a book’ moments was both crazily in-depth and rather essential for the book to work as a whole…. Which hopefully it does!
I love the “Where’s Nibbles” double spread where he is hiding behind all the books. There are a lot of book titles included in that illustration. Are those books that are particularly meaningful to you? Did you have a particular motivation for including them?
Many of the books that are included are my tip top very favourites- to name but a few; The Jolly Postman, Home, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Wild, Not now Bernard…
There are also a number of books that had the possibility of being more involved in the story (ie Rejected ‘book within a books;), such as Snow White & the Seven Dwarves and The Three Little Pigs. Having not used them in the main storyline it felt only right to include them in the book somewhere!
But more than anything else, this spread was a spread created to celebrate the joy and wonder of wonderful children’s literature… (with a few of my own titles added in!).
Nibbles is all about making stories and storytelling fun, and the last image of Orion and the Dark is of the monster reading a bedtime story to Orion, which I think is a really wonderful and comforting scene. Do you think creating such positive experiences and images of reading and books is important in possibly shaping future readers?
I think it is essential to speak of and show reading and books in a positive light. So often I think reading is seen as boring or geekish, but it is completely the opposite. Books can shape us as human beings, they can take us too places we’ve never been or take us back to a time or to a place in the future that doesn’t yet exist. I seek to pull readers in to my books and to show the fun, comfort and enjoyment that can be found in reading. Including positive images of people reading within books is key to setting that example… Although Nibbles does show a might disrespect to books by eating them, he also has such an appetite and draw towards books that hopefully it helps the reader to see books differently. Perhaps best not put them on the menu though.
Thank you so much Emma for this wonderful guest post!
Nibbles the Book Monster is out now and can be purchased here.
The tour concludes tomorrow over on Story Snug.