I enjoy giving books to the young people in my life. It is a fantasy of mine to supply great libraries of curated books to all of my grandchildren. Yes, this is my fantasy. Toward this end, I have kept my eyes open for the best of all books for every age of person. This is one of the reasons that I review children’s books. Also for you to make choices for your own children, or just for yourself when you snuggle up in bed with a great picture book. We don’t do that, do we? I wonder why not.
Part of it is that picture books are meant to be shared, they are meant to be experienced in a group of at least two. Which is definitely what A Book with No Pictures is capitalizing so deftly on. Written by B.J. Novak of The Office TV series fame, this book is completely meant to be read aloud, and it targets the funny bones and imaginations of small children. What would compel anyone to pick up a book with no pictures, down to even the very plain cover? You’re just going to have to trust all the other people who have read the book who are telling you to pick it up and read it.
It’s an instant classic, and it should be. The book is conversational, ala Don’t Let the Pigeon Steal the Bus, or Press This, etc. At first, it acknowledges to the listener that a book without pictures sounds awfully boring. BUT did you know that every word in a book must be read by the reader, even if those words were nonsensical, silly, or absurd? Or even embarrassing? And that’s the whole premise, but it keeps the reader doing verbal acrobatics and the listener laughing right up to the end.
There is, by the way, color in this book, and a variety of size and design to the font. So there is something to look at. But the real genius is in the ease with which it ushers the reader into the role of a great storyteller, a performer, as it were.
I also love the idea that some have had of reading it in class and then having the children illustrate pages of the book. It would definitely encourage imagination. Though I still think of this book as perfect for a snuggle with a child, and then that child taking this book and demanding that other adults read it to them, too. Which is the best kind of picture book.