Decoding Picturebooks: Positioning and Framing

—The height of a character on the page often marks their social status or their own self-image:
  • High positioning equates to positive status, favour with other characters or high spirits
  • Characters low down in the page are less confident, afraid, glum or looked down upon


  • Framed: limited glimpse ‘into’ a world.
  • Unframed: view from ‘within’
Peter Rabbit
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, 1902


Poor Peter Rabbit.

By setting the viewpoint low to the ground with restricted vision of Peter’s pursuer, Beatrix potter creates tension for the reader.

The close-up position allows us to feel his fear and desperation. We are not quite under the sieve with Peter, but close enough to see the danger he is in.  The movement of the birds shows us the force of the sieve as it is thrust down upon him.

Into the Forest by Anthony Browne, 2005




Little Hansel and Gretel are dwarfed by the menacing looking trees in the imposing forest.

The picture is unframed.  We are in the forest with them, looking down at their vulnerable faces.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, 1963


Max is king.  Although he is physically smaller than the wild thing, his positioning on the grassy mound and their relative postures bring them almost level with each other.

Unlike Hansel and Gretel above, Max is not much smaller than the trees.

One thought on “Decoding Picturebooks: Positioning and Framing

  1. Reblogged this on It's all kids stuff. and commented:
    Another look at illustrations in children’s books- this time the placement of the characters- as much as the authors have specific choices to make, so do illustrators- they always want to be saying something- we just need to look deeper to find out what.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s