Monday, October 13, 2014

B.J. Novak's The Book With No Pictures

Have you heard of the new children's book, The Book With No Pictures, written by actor-comedian B.J. Novak (The Office)? I stumbled upon it online and immediately ordered a copy for A.'s nephews and my friend's 6-year-old daughter who we were going to see during this weekend's camping trip. The concept behind the book is that the adult reading it finds himself saying the most absurd things (to the child's absolute delight) and also fighting back against the silly words he's being forced to say. The book might not have any illustrations, but type and color are used in an artistic way and kids get to see the power behind words.

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair about his new book, Novak explained why he decided to do a children's picture book with just words.

"Well, I have two answers, and they're both true. The idealistic answer, and it's true, is that I thought, There's a really exciting way to show kids that the written word can be their ally and that it's possible to do something extremely powerful—which is overpower an adult and your experience with them, using only words. Words that can be on your side. And I thought there was a beautiful, exciting lesson in that, in making words something—which they are, rebellious and a form of freedom—that a kid can learn is on their side whenever they want it to be. And the simple answer is that I can't draw, and I wanted to do it all myself," he said.

When we read the book's title to our friend's daughter she seemed skeptical that this would be a fun story time.

"The Book With No Pictures? Aww, it's a chapter book," she groaned. But she settled in as A. started reading her the book.

Well let me tell you, that child went around the group and had that book read to her like eight times in 24 hours. She just could not get enough! And to her, every time was just as funny as the last.

In the book trailer below, Novak reads The Book With No Pictures to a group of kids and ends up sending them into a pile of giggles. In fact, the same part that our friend's daughter kept obsessing over and over also caused a bit of a commotion when he read it to these school children.

"At the school that the reading was at [in the trailer]—it's a very orderly school," Novak told Vanity Fair. "They had to calm the kids down after I read the line 'Boo Boo Butt.' We had to cut like 60 seconds out of the tape, because they're going crazy. They're practically running around. They had to do a whole ritual of '1, 2, 3, shhh' to quiet them back down. After it was all done, they had a very orderly way to get the kids out, in line, and back to their classrooms. But one tiny little five-year-old African American girl just bursts out and ran out of the line, hugged me and pointed at me and said 'You are hilarious.' And that's been the highlight so far."

We can't wait to read this to A.'s nephews!


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