Art Spiegelman’s <em>In The Shadow of No Towers</em> as Board Book: From the Matter of Materiality to the Way That Materiality Matters

  • Michelle Ann Abate
Keywords: board books, Spiegelman, Art, materiality, 9/11, graphic memoirs


This essay explores what happens when we foreground the materiality of Art Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers, examining it first as a board book and second as a graphic memoir, a work of historical non-fiction, or a therapeutic piece of trauma writing. Michelle Ann Abate argues that the thick card stock on which the text is printed forms a key readerly access point as well as a thematic pivot point. Heeding the cue provided by the format of the board book moves children and childhood from the margins to the centre of the narrative. This new perspective reveals that, together with offering a critique about the politicization of 9/11, No Towers contains an illuminating analysis about the politicization of young people in the United States.


DOI: 10.1353/jeu.2015.0021

Author Biography

Michelle Ann Abate

Michelle Ann Abate is Associate Professor of Literature for Children and Young Adults at The Ohio State University. She is the author of three books of literary criticism: Bloody Murder: The Homicide Tradition in Children’s Literature (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), Raising Your Kids Right: Children’s Literature and American Political Conservatism (Rutgers University Press, 2010), and Tomboys: A Literary and Cultural History (Temple University Press, 2008).

How to Cite
Abate, M. A. (2016). Art Spiegelman’s <em>In The Shadow of No Towers</em&gt; as Board Book: From the Matter of Materiality to the Way That Materiality Matters. Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, 7(2). Retrieved from