Thursday 4 December 2014

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak (Puffin Books)

The Book with No Pictures

Written and (er, sort of) Illustrated by

B.J. Novak

Published by Puffin Books

Muhahahah! This book is PERFECT for catching your children out. To give you an idea of what I'm getting at, this is how things 'went down' at ReadItDaddy Towers when this book arrived.

Me: "Charlotte, we've got a GREAT new book to review! It's called 'The Book with No Pictures'"
Charlotte: "I don't like books with no pictures!"
Me: "Trust me, you're going to LOVE this one though! It's hilarious!"
Charlotte: "No I won't! Don't like! Wah wah wah (or words to that effect)"

Some cajoling and convincing later, we snuggled down with B.J. Novak's book which has caused quite a calamity over t'pond, and rightly so - it's a work of genius.

It's worth saying at the outset that this book is probably a real win for parents who love reading aloud (and also a real win for kids who do too!) - Like a piece of performance art, "The Book with No Pictures" lets big show-offs (like me) really go to town with gusto when reading through.

It starts off subtly. No pictures (as promised), fairly plain text, like an introductory passage tucked into the end papers of a weightier tome. As I read, Charlotte wore the expression of someone who would rather be cleaning her teeth with a hedgehog than listening to me read - but then the first snigger arrived. On its heels the first giggle, then the first guffaw, and after that - completely uncontrollable laughter which carried on right through till the end of the book when Charlotte shouted "AGAIN! AGAIN!" - as your children probably will too.

"The Book With No Pictures" shows just how brilliant B.J. Novak's inner knowledge of what makes people (particularly children) laugh, without resorting to fart, bum and poo gags. It comes with a bit of a warning though, the 'reader' must be self-deprecating enough to take the book's focus on making them look a bit daft in good stead (of course, I love anything that forces people to laugh at themselves as well as everyone else, so does Charlotte!)

It's a great idea, one that could easily become a series, one that children may initially be sceptical about but will ultimately fall about laughing over. Most of all though, it's a gorgeously potted piece of performance art wrapped in book covers. The only negative I'd have on it is that it might not stand up for re-reading as once the gag is given away, kids will know what to expect (which is all the more reason for B.J to get cracking on "The Next Book With No Pictures" as soon as possible!)

Charlotte's best bit: Finding out that my head is made of blueberry pizza! Charming!

Daddy's Favourite bit: It's a real hoot to 'perform' this book, I just absolutely loved that initial grumpiness that Charlotte had when she heard that the book wouldn't have any pictures - turning to giggles, snorts and outright guffaws of laughter once the book shifts into gear! What an awesome idea!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Puffin Books)