The Book With No Pictures – but much hilarity


My son Carl gave me this remarkable book. Let me tell you about it.

B.J. Novak had an insidious plan. Write a book that begins innocently enough, with a statement hinting at the unusual format for this picturebook…wait…if there are no pictures, is it still a picturebook? It’s shaped like one and has pages, text, a gutter in the middle, a cover that says the title. But Novak is right – there isn’t a single picture.

Then he makes the point that whoever (especially if that person is an adult) is reading this book aloud must say whatever is in the book.

That’s the rule.

Immediately, kid’s eyes twinkle at the thought of what it would be like to have a grown-up read ridiculous stuff and Shazaam! It happens: “Blork.” The first word that begins to make grownups reading aloud be silly in front of kids.

The text says “Wait-what? That doesn’t even mean anything.” Well, perhaps to the author it doesn’t, however in our newspaper the cartoon Thatababy by Paul Trap frequently relies on that word – blork. It’s the sound of a diaper being filled. I’m sure Mr. Novak would approve.

Many extremely silly lines later (“I am a robot monkey”??? “my head is made of blueberry pizza”???and an animal named “Boo Boo Butt”???) the read-aloud person has been humiliated, but is this enough? Oh, no. There is more in store. The reader is coerced into making idolizing comments about the kid. How perfect. And, to make victory even sweeter, there’s a double page spread of weird sounds the adult reader must make out loud. After all, they are written in the book.

That’s the rule.

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