There’s a famous poem by Emily Dickinson about telling the truth:
“Tell all the truth but tell it slant â€”
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind â€””
I love this poem and the idea that the truth can be “slanted,” that someone’s telling of a story – if it’s the truth to them – is important. The poem is quoted in Adele Griffin’s The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone. The book is told in a series of interviews of people who knew the titular Addison Stone who dies under mysterious circumstances at the beginning of the book: her parents, friends, boyfriends, art dealer, hangers on, etc. Interspersed in the interviews are pictures of her art, pictures of her, and articles about her.
The catch? Addison Stone is not real, but with the way the book is written, you could let yourself be convinced otherwise.
Adele Griffin collaborated with a number of people to create the art and pictures of the artists, including one person playing Addison Stone. Reading the book you can believe almost that Addison is real. You can even visit her Tumblr!
This got to thinking about other ways – slanted ways, if you will – to tell a story. Something like the 2013 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults pick Chopsticks, the twist-at-the-end picture and text story of two teens falling in love, or even the sadly disabled WondLa Vision from the Tony DiTerlizzi’s middle grade WondLa series:
Some people call these efforts “transmedia” or “mixed media.” Last summer YALS published a list of transmedia books to get started with and it’s a great list. But I wonder what other boundaries we can cross when thinking about telling the truth but telling it slant? Do the LIzzie Bennett Diaries videos count as an adaptation or transmedia or something else?
What are your favorite, maybe nontraditional ways to tell a story? With pictures only? Mixed media between books and Internet sources?
-Anna Tschetter, currently reading Conversion by Katherine Howe
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Anna is a Teen Librarian in northeast Massachusetts at Memorial Hall Library. She loves comics, sci-fi, and any other book about smart, awesome ladies.