Before the establishment of picture books as a prominent section of children’s literature, no one seemed to care about the pages on the inside covers. The purpose of the pages, known as endpapers, is “to affix the pages of the book to the casing” (Harms and Lettow 17). According to Nikolajeva and Scott, authors of How Picturebooks Work, “almost nothing is written about the paratext of picture books such as titles, covers, or endpapers” (241). Despite the limited scholarly attention, endpapers are seen as more than a means to fasten pages to the spine of a book. Although the vast majority of books simply use a double spread of solid color, endpapers in children’s picture books serve a different role. They add color and a visual summary of the story. Increasingly, authors see the value of engaging the reader from the start with the endpapers and then urging them to “[talk] about visual aesthetic considerations and how these [contribute] to the story’s meaning” (Henderson and May 231).
A common way to engage the reader in the story, as Nikolajeva and Scott note, “is to depict the main character several times on endpaper, performing various actions, most often not mentioned inside the book” (247). Michael Bond, the author, and R.W. Alley, the illustrator, use this tactic in several of the books in the latest Paddington Bear series. Forming three somewhat zigzagging lines, the same ten small drawings of Paddington Bear fall on the two front and two back endpapers in the same pattern. Each depiction of Paddington Bear denotes a different activity. One shows him contentedly eating what looks to be a cinnamon bun or some other sweet pastry, while in another he anxiously peeks up under his umbrella at the rain falling down. In all of the pictures, though, he wears his signature coat, and, in most, his hat and suitcase are nearby, signifying a unity between the stories.
Underlining the sense of unity, the Paddington Bear series utilizes the same exact endpapers for several other Paddington Bear books. The only distinguishing factor becomes the background color. Since the ten pictures are outlines done in black ink, it is relatively easy to alter the color of the page to create a new effect for the separate adventures in the series. The book Paddington Bear has a rich cherry red hue, while Paddington Bear at the Circus has a bright lemony yellow. Children may then compare the similarities of the endpapers and know they are collecting a series.
Many readers today do not know the Paddington Bear series originated from Michael Bond’s A Bear Called Paddington. First published in 1958 in Great Britain, not as a picture book, but as a book with eight chapters, it tells the same story of the Peruvian bear abandoned in Paddington Station. Perusing the first two chapters, “Please Look After this Bear” and “A Bear in Hot Water,” one may recognize the story in Paddington Bear published in 1998. Both the picture book and chapter book begin “Mr. and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform” (Bond, Paddington Bear 3 and Bond, A Bear Called Paddington 7). Even so, Paddington Bear clearly favors the audience of younger children. As a picture book, the emphasis lies on images telling the story, while A Bear Called Paddington utilizes the written word more. Numerous sentences from the original stories are cut from the newer story.
Due to the more in-depth story, several features are explained further in A Bear Called Paddington. For instance, a reader familiar with the series published in the late twentieth century might recognize the Paddington Bear in A Bear Called Paddington from his hat and suitcase, but that bear does not have a coat. The one characteristic unifying the ten small drawings on the endpapers in the1998 picture books might confuse an audience because of the absence of the coat. The illustrator for A Bear Called Paddington, Peggy Fortnum, did not include the coat because the story of how Paddington obtains the coat is explained later in one of the chapters.
Comparing the original, A Bear Called Paddington, and the newer Paddington Bear, the distinction between the endpapers might affect how a reader approaches each book. By viewing the multiple pictures of Paddington Bear in one of the 1998 picture books, a reader may want to find which story each picture belongs to and thus is more likely to collect the series. Even though similar stories occur in the chapter book and the picture books, the endpapers exemplify how the picture books are tailored to younger children. The pictures capture their attention and curiosity. What is the bear doing? The children then seek out the story accompanying the image. No such connection can be made with the blank pages of the 1958 book. HarperCollins Publishing clearly tailored the picture books to better fit the intended audience. In the 1958 book, the blank, White endpapers do not encourage a reader to seek out other stories about Paddington. Anticipation is limited to one book, not several.
Beatrix Potter’s Tales of Peter Rabbit follow the same method as Paddington Bear. Designed specifically with children in mind, her series of animal fantasy stories are published in small books easily held and collected by the small hands of children. Ironically, the size of the book posed a small obstacle when Potter designed the endpapers, because as she told Mr. Warne, her publisher, she was “afraid that when fully coloured and repeated four times, it may look rather heavy for so small a book” (Taylor 72). Framed by Potter’s own illustrations of her characters, as shown below, the endpapers entice the reader to read more stories. Lining the edges of the double spread endpapers, wispy blue swirls connect six small drawings of various characters on each page. Eleven of the twelve drawings in the 1998 edition depict a character reading or holding a book with the title of their own story written on the binding or cover. The date of the other editions may be determined “by looking at there [sic] animals” (Taylor 411). Ms. Potter went on to explain in a letter that
[a]fter Peter the books mainly came out in pairs. Thus 1903- Tailor of Gloucester & Squirrel Nutkin 1st edition end papers show Nutkin & a Tailor Mouse as well as Peter. Next year these 3 were joined by the next pair of books + Tw Bad Mice and Benjamin Bunny. Mrs. Tiggy joined them early on, but she was concealing the title of her book, until it was published. (Taylor 411)
Oddly enough, the titles on the open books follow the standard practice of reading left to right, allowing the reader to discern the title of the book. Spanning the back and front cover, the title would then begin on the back page with the book closed. Aside from the titles of her other works, Ms. Potter, in her early sketches, also hid the original publication date in the endpapers. However, after asking the opinion of Norman Warne “the old date [of publication] (on nut bag) [was] scraped off the endpaper block” (Taylor 98). Ms. Potter clearly designed the endpapers to convey more information than simply showing her main characters.
The well-known endpapers lined with Potter’s own watercolor illustrations of her characters served as the endpaper design for nearly one hundred years, from 1904 to 2002. The original 1902 publication of The Tale of Peter Rabbit actually “had grey-blue leaf-patterned endpapers” (Taylor 72). In 1903, “Beatrix was asked to provide a full-colour design to be used for her books’ endpapers” (Taylor 72). The request, however, came with a price. With the addition of the illustrated endpapers, four pages of other illustrations subsequently “were sacrificed in 1903” (Potter, 2002 edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit 5). Potter, in a letter to Norman Warne, revealed that she “always [thought] that an end paper ought to be something to rest the eye between the cover and the contents of the book; like a plain mount for a framed drawing” (Taylor 72). Ironically, her preference for a simpler endpaper design was honored in 2002 when, to celebrate “the centenary of the first publication by Frederick Warne of The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1902,” Frederick Warne & Co., as a trademark of Penguin Group Inc., reproduced The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Potter, 2002 edition of The Tale of PeterRabbit 5). Of the changes made, the biggest alteration was the removal of the illustrated endpapers. In their stead, faded outlines of the characters on a light blue background subtly form a base for an empty nameplate. Though the characters still grace the endpapers, the effect is not the same. The desire to seek out the other tales lessens when the reader must squint at the light lines to recognize the characters. Although Penguin Group produced the centenary collection of Beatrix Potter’s work as one bundle, and there was thus no need to lead the reader to the other stories, the original illustrations were still appreciated, for they reminded the reader of specific characters. Clearly seeing the animals dressed in human attire, the reader is reminded “her animals do behave like animals in man respects, but they are human in more respects. Through them, Potter comments on human behavior” (Moynihan and Shaner 138).