“What is the Use of a Book Without Pictures?” An Exploration of the Impact of Illustrations on Reading Experience in A Monster Calls
This article examines the effect of Jim Kay’s illustrations on the experience of reading A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. The author compares the responses of six Key Stage Three children (11–14 years old), three of whom were given an illustrated version of the text, and three a non-illustrated version. The children with an illustrated copy engaged with the text more deeply and critically than the others. They were also more likely to relate the story to their own lives. The illustrations were found to work alongside the participants’ own visualisations rather than replacing them, and opened up further possible interpretations rather than limiting them. The illustrations did not appear to have influenced the participants’ overall enjoyment of the book, nor did they significantly alter the readers’ views on key themes and ideas of the text.