Friday, March 06, 2015


I can’t deny that I have a weakness for humorous, metafictional, crowd-pleasing read alouds with stunning illustrations. B.J. Novak’s The Book With No Pictures only meets 3 out of the 4 criteria, but what it does with those 3 is more than enough to compensate. Have you ever paused to consider: what is a picture book without pictures? 

This one, at least, is hilarious. Filled with hijinks, nonsensical words like BLORK and BLUURF, and declarations that the reader (that’s you, by the way) is a self-taught robot monkey reading in a robot monkey voice, this book presents itself as a gift to young children to savor the written word at the expense of its (often adult) readers. The premise that readers must say aloud every single word without exception is hardly unexplored territory, but this book is truly masterfully attuned to its young audience. By the time it finishes explaining “how books work” it is already eliciting giggles; the kids are in on the joke. 

Now imagine their reaction when you’re forced to admit that your only friend is a hippo named BooBooButt. 

Though there aren’t any pictures (see: book title) typography goes a long way to provide visual interest and subtext. It’s a great book both to teach print awareness (understanding that words have meanings) to pre-readers and to cultivate an appreciation for the written word, particularly in young readers who are transitioning to books without illustrations and possibly feeling daunted by the prospect.

For another book featuring the funny things readers can't help but say, see We Are In a Book! by Mo Willems.

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