Body Image and Disfiguration in Allen Say’s Stranger in the Mirror, and David Shannon’s A Bad Case of Stripes

Andrew Hoe


The child’s image of his ever-changing physical body, combined with social speculations on his appearance, exists in a charged state of emotional tension. The child seeks to build a strong, confident body image which appeals to himself, but finds this stressful when social others attempt to make claims on his physicality, on how he should look as opposed to how he wants to look.
This study focuses on children’s picture books with protagonists who suffer a disfiguration and therefore defy socially-defined body images; their respective disfigurations make them outcasts. Children’s picture books convey political themes regarding bodily image to a receptive child readership skilled enough to interpret visual and verbal codes conveyed through images of child protagonists in disfigured bodily forms.

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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

ISBN 1551-5680