Review: The Book With No Pictures, by BJ Novak
Like me, my boys love books, but at 16 months and almost 4, they are creatures of habit. They invariably plump for the tried and tested formula of bright, attractive pictures accompanying a rhythmic and engaging story with a beginning, a middle and an end. And although the big boy and I have been making successful forays in to the world of chapter books, I wasn’t sure what he would make of this ‘picture book’ with no pictures in it. Scrolling through the PDF from the publisher on my Kindle (the book hasn’t been released yet), I wondered if it was perhaps too self-referential for my pre-schooler. And as well as having no pictures, the book has no characters and no plot.
I needn’t have worried. From the very first page of The Book With No Pictures, stand-up comedian, actor and writer BJ Novak’s first book for children, my son was hooked. He seemed to be relishing being in on the big joke, answering the questions posed by the text with a look of delight on his face. By page four he was giggling at the clever wordplay and the enforced silliness. The lack of pictures stopped us short and made us both think about what we were reading. We played along, we talked about the words, the typography, what was on the page rather than what wasn’t.
What I enjoyed most as a parent was the way that the book, and my child, were very much in charge, rather than me as the reader. The book has an irrepressible sense of fun and was just what we needed to shake up our book love a bit. For parents with a love of language and who would like their children to share that, this book is perfect.
But he’s always one for the last word, my boy. It isn’t a book with no pictures apparently. There’s a picture of a tiny penguin at the end. Sorry Penguin Books. Maybe you could lose the logo in the next edition, for all those eagle-eyed, three-almost-four-year-olds out there?
With thanks to the publisher for the review copy of this book.