Alexandra Kowal ’14 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
B.J. Novak has done the unthinkable – written a children’s book without pictures.
The Book With No Pictures was recently picked up by Dial, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. It was released on September 30th of 2014.
Although the book lacks a conventional plot, the concept is amusing. Importance is placed on the written and spoken word rather than on visuals. The genius design instantly conveys this, as everything is set against a stark white background. Splashes of color single out some important phrases and give the words a little variety. Different fonts and text sizes also create a little bit of visual interest to make up for the absence of pictures.
The hilarity comes from the idea of giving children power over their parents. As the book explains, “everything the words say, the person reading the book has to say.” And many of those words are supremely silly – “blork” and “bluurf” are just the beginning.
It explicitly informs everyone of the fact that it is a silly book with the prominent warning label on its back cover. “This book looks serious but it is actually COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS!” Parents are warned; children are encouraged. Reading a book without pictures can be fun too! It gets kids laughing and forces them to use their imaginations.
The Book With No Pictures is an engaging read, often interacting with the reader. After some particularly ridiculous lines, the reader’s response is often confused or indignant. When asked to sing a song, the corresponding text asks, “A song? Do I really have to sing…” before bursting into song. The jokes even continue to the very end, as “The End” is followed by more silly words. The way it’s written also encourages children to participate in a dialogue with the reader.
The power of this story comes from its storytelling. It is specifically meant to be read to children. A great storyteller will bring the book to life; otherwise, the concept falls flat. It’s as much about the performance as the words within. The Book With No Pictures loses some of its magic when read individually, since it’s intended purpose is to be read aloud. However, for the target age group, it is still a great foray into the world of books filled with words.
Overall, Novak has managed to make an entertaining book for young readers, even without pictures.