‘That’s great, Mr Narrator’: Exploring metalepsis in the works of Tom Fletcher

Ella Wydrzynska

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputConference publication


Tom Fletcher is not only one of the UK’s best-selling authors for children, he’s also a master of metalepsis: the deliberate disturbing, breaking or blurring of narrative boundaries. Whether that be conversational asides from the narrator of the text to the real reader outside the fiction, an author figure directly communicating with their own fictional characters, or the complete conflation of narrative levels so that characters, narrators and (occasionally) authors are seen to exist on the same ontological plane, metalepsis significantly increases narrative complexity by obscuring or collapsing the boundaries between reality and fiction. It is especially related to postmodernism (McHale, 1987) with typical examples of metalepsis almost exclusively cited from ‘highbrow’ works of literature from the likes of Pirandello, Fowles, Flaubert and so on.

Less commonly mentioned in relation to metalepsis are the works of children’s literature, with popular opinion often deeming such techniques far too sophisticated for child-readers. However, as authors such as Tom Fletcher make
apparent, these devices are not only prevalent in contemporary children’s fiction, but are also greatly enjoyed (and capably understood) by the target

This paper therefore concentrates on metaleptic transgressions in Tom Fletcher’s writing, considering the distinction between rhetorical and ontological metalepsis (Ryan, 2004; Pantaleo, 2019) and the ways in which these are often deployed to engage child-readers in the fiction directly, especially regarding the prevalent use of the second-person, notably oral narration and playfulness
with narrative structure. I shall illustrate how the blurring of narrative boundaries contributes to the inherently metafictive nature of Fletcher’s books and, in doing so, I shall place this paper within the wider context of scholarship regarding postmodernism and metafiction for children.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPALA 2022 Proceedings Online
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022
EventPoetics and Linguistics Association Conference 2022 - Aix-en-Provence, France
Duration: 6 Jul 20239 Jul 2023


ConferencePoetics and Linguistics Association Conference 2022
Abbreviated titlePALA 2022


  • Metalepsis
  • postmodernism
  • metafiction
  • children’s literature
  • junior fiction
  • Tom Fletcher
  • child-reader
  • narrator-author


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