Norwegian Picture Book Apps and Scholarship About Them

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By Nina Goga

Various forms of electronic literature for children have been created in Norway in the last five years, and a number of critics and scholars have proposed ways in which to understand this literature. The first discussions were about the relationship between books for tablets and books on paper, such as in Linn T. Sunnes article (2012). Others tried to sort the apps according to degrees of digital complexity, as we see in Elise Seip Tønnessen’s articles (2012 and 2014). There have also been attempts at writing qualified reviews and literary criticism of the new form of childrens’ literature, such as Kristin Øyrjasæter’s article (2012) about Stian Hole’s Garmanns sommer and Kari Stai’s Jakob og Neikob, Atle Berge’s review (2015) of three new, Norwegian children’s book apps, and in Guro Bråten’s article (2015) about Åshild Kanstad Johnsen’s Kubbe lager skyggeteater. We also see discussions of how literary criticism of these works might look, for instance by Nina Goga (2013) and an interview by Atle Berge (2014).

Based on Tønnessen’s characteristics of the childrens’ book apps on the market, four categories have become commonly used. Visual audiobooks are little more than scanned versions of existing picture books and are frequently traditional, popular picture books by established authors and illustrators. Picture books with additional effects add new aesthetic dimensions like sounds and animations to digital versions of previously published paper books. Interactive picture books use aspects of gameplay to involve children, and often narrative is less featured. Digital first productions (equivalent to the English digital native) are created specifically for the tablet and are not based on a paper book.