“Best behaviour” picturebooks, also known as “making good habits” or “teaching good manners” picturebooks, have explicit educational intentions that imply a culturally hegemonic voice. Despite this problematic characteristic, these picturebooks are welcomed by both parents and the market in China. Using extant picturebook theory of picture-text relationships, narratological, paratextual analyses and translation theory, this article seeks a better understanding of how this hegemonic voice is formed, resolved or consolidated via a critical reading of three best-selling “best behaviour” picturebook series available in the Chinese market. One is the original Chinese-language WaiWaiTu-ZiKongLi series (Little Bunny series). The second series is the translated United States series, Hands Are Not For Hitting, now a Chinese best behaviour publication. The third series is a translated rendition of Pete the Cat series, which did not serve any evident educational purpose in its original English-market form but has been identified to cultivate good character on the Chinese covers. These publications commonly present straightforward picture-text relationships of two-dimensional stories and characters. Most importantly, adults hold power in these best behaviour children’s books. We argue that both the construction and disruption of hegemonic thinking co-exist in these picturebooks, reflecting the nature of adult power plays. At the same time, these best behaviour picturebooks serve as a good example of how hegemonic notions work within specific cultural and pedagogical contexts.
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