Infodump in picutre book biographies

What is purple prose?

What is Infodump?

As the term suggests, infodump happens when the writer gives chunks of background information instead of letting the story show it gradually. This is when the story stops and bla bla bla soars!

Infodump is one subcategory of telling and they do not specifically appear in picture book biographies but in any book of any genre and any category. Yet, for drafting a biography, the writer gathers a massive amount of information and has to skim through this information and cut most part of them to have a story. Here come the uninvited guests: Some pieces of unnecessary information slip into the story. Ta da! Infodump.

If information is the piece of stone, the final story is the statue the writer chisels. The more masterful writer, the more meticulous the statue. The more careless writer, the more primitive the rough-carved statue!

Infodump is one type of telling. In this blog post, I have discussed show & tell in detail.

In this blog post, I investigate types of info dump and next narrow down the discussion to picture book biographies. 

Why infodump happens 

 

 

 

 

Where find infodumps

 

 

Infodump in World Building

 

 

 

Character Info Dump

I took this paragraph from the second spread of a brilliantly crafted SECRETS OF THE SEA: THE STORY OF JEANNE POWER, REVOLUTIONARY MARINE SCIENTIST (2021) by Evan Griffith and Joanie Stone.

Secrets of the sea

The second spread of the book reads:

A large island off the coast of Italy, Sicily was nothing like the tiny village in France where Jeanne had grown up. It was also a big change from bustling Paris, where she had worked as a seamstress. Jeanne could sew anything. She had once designed a wedding gown for an Italian princess!

 

 

On the next page (still on the second spread), we read:

But when she married a merchant and moved to Sicily, she decided to leave dressmaking behind and try something new. What would she do? Who would she become?

Let’s look closely at this information. The author gave this background information for a purpose. Jeanne was an independent woman in Paris (past). She is married and doesn’t know what to do (present). Without knowing this background, the sentence “What would she do?” makes no feeling. Do you see how the author uses the information to show confusion?

It would be infodump if the text reads something like:

Jeanne was born in a tiny village in France. She became a talented seamstress in Paris. She moved to Sicily and quit her job when she married a merchant. She didn’t know what to do in Sicily

The second point which I would love to emphasize is that when we see the character have doubt, we relate to and root for her. Many biographies portray their characters as flawless determined persons. To create a lovable memorable character you need flaws, not perfection.

Consider the subtext and message this approach gives to children: “it is OK if you feel you don’t know what to do with your life. Jeanne didn’t know what to do also but she figured it out. So do you!” This is the purpose of storytelling. To learn something for my own life. Otherwise, I would shrug at all of this information. So what! Good for her!

 

Infodump Through Dialogue

Story question 

Dear Mr. Dickens  (2021) by Nancy Churnin and Bethany Stancliffe

Posted in Picture Book Biography, PictureBookPedia.

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