Week 2: Form Effects Meaning

I recently read The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal by Kate Elliott, a chapbook companion to Elliott’s Spiritwalker Trilogy, with which I am completely in love. The trilogy focuses on the adventures of two cousins, Catherine (Cat) and Beatrice (Bee). The story is told from Cat’s point of view, so the Secret Journal retells the story from Bee’s perspective using the medium of her sketchbook.

The book is visually beautiful, with 29 black-and-white illustrations by the award-winning fantasy artist Julie Dillon. The pictures and text overlap physically, giving the impression that the book is being written and drawn at the same time. But, the best part is the accompanying discussion between the two cousins written on and around the main text. As you read the Journal, it becomes clear that it is being written, drawn, edited, rewritten, and discussed at the same time. This is facilitated by the use of three different fonts: one for the main text, one for Cat’s notes, and one for Bee’s responses to her. The result is an immersive experience in the world of the books that is also a character study of the two protagonists.

Bee’s sketchbook is an integral part of her character, and it only makes sense for her story to be written within its pages. But the marginalia adds an authenticity to the reading experience. One important use of Bee’s sketchbook is as a facilitator of conversation between her and her cousin in which they write notes back and forth. By including this detail, the chapbook functions as both an addition to the overall story and an artifact from within the story.

Kate Elliott talks about the process behind making the Secret Journal: http://thebooksmugglers.com/2013/10/the-secret-journal-of-beatrice-hassi-barahal-kate-elliott-on-fan-art-giveaway.html

The Journal can be found here in PDF: http://www.kateelliott.com/index.php?pageID=53

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