Monday, 26 January 2015

The Book With No Pictures

The Book With No Pictures

By B.J. Novak 
Published by Puffin

When I first heard about The Book With No Pictures I thought, ‘Why hasn’t anyone done this before in a picture book format?’ And then it dawned on me, a picture book without pictures, doesn't that just make it a book? A book full of big words, big boring words made from big boring fonts? Of course this is something younger readers would potentially be put off by, and possibly their parents too. This could well be the case, but at the same time it could help a child bridge that gap from picture book to books (dare I say it?) without illustrations and make that a lot less scary for them.

And true to it's word this is a picture book without pictures. There isn't even a sniff of an illustration, a doodle or a sqiggle amongst any of the pages. There is however a lot of text, and who better to read it than a grown up! Which is the point of this unusual book, whether it's a sign of the times where young children are now using apps to help them read picture books (or just to interact with them) and parents are reading less to their children (for a number of reasons). This book enforces the rule that a grown up has to read it. And that's the genius of it. There's no narrative, it's simply to show the child that the book is in charge and must be read! And as it has full control of the helpless grown up it might as well have some fun with them too...  

The text is well designed with enphasis on different fonts, colours and styles. I couldn't stop getting a feeling of Roald Dahl throughout the book with silly humour and funny made up words that children will relish. And having a parent reading out silly words that potentially make them look silly has to be funny! (espcially when it's your mummy or daddy!).

I can't help but feel this book is a novelty picture book. I can see it becoming a classic and being added to bookshelves all over the world, but I'm not sure it's in the same league as a picture book with pictures. The magic is in the reading, and apparently it can make any reader sound funny (though a bit of added comedy performance is needed). All in all it's a brave book and one that is definitely a hit with children and adults alike. 

I'll leave you with a video to accompany the launch of The Book With No Pictures with B.J. Novak reading an extract and showing the reaction from the children by his performance. I hope all parents/grown-ups get the same response as these children were in hysterics!

The Book With No Pictures is out now and available to buy from the Puffin website here.

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