UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Playfulness in e-picturebooks : how the element of play manifests in transmediated and born-digital picturebook apps Frederico, Aline


This thesis analyzes how playfulness is expressed in eight picturebook apps available for the iPad, four of them being born-digital picturebook apps and the other four picturebooks being transmediated into apps from print counterparts. These works of digital literature, aimed at children between 3 and 8 years old, underwent a close reading through the lenses of social semiotics, as presented by Gunther Kress and Theo Van Leeuwen, and its manifestation in picturebook theory, as presented by David Lewis’ ecology of the picturebook. Playfulness was analyzed according to the three categories proposed by Nikolajeva: through the interanimation among modes, through metafiction and through performance–implicit and explicit. One born-digital and one transmediated app was selected among a sample of 100 picturebook apps as quintessential examples of that type of playfulness, although all apps manifested on different levels all kinds of playfulness. The multimodal analysis of these picturebook apps revealed that each app is unique in the way modes both individually and in combination work as a multimodal text in expressing playfulness. The different modes may work in counterpoint to generate irony, or they may complement each other building signs that are ironic in contrast with other signs inside the narrative. The inclusion of interactivity makes possible new combinations of modes that integrate reader inputs and various forms of participation. Participation is an important element in the construction of metafiction since, as interactive narratives, most texts manifest an overt recognition of the reader as a participant. The differences between born-digital and transmediated apps are subtle, but this sample suggested that the counterpart among modes is used as a playful resource more significantly in transmediated apps, while the born-digital apps count more on interactivity and performance to generate playfulness. Half of the transmediated apps manifested covert metafiction, while all of the born-digital texts manifested overt metafiction. Finally, in terms of performance, the born-digital apps showed highly theatricalized participation of the reader and also promoted reader participation in co-authoring, which was not seen in the transmediated apps.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada