One of the true joys of having children is that sometimes – hopefully – the things you want, toys, books, animated films, that you might never quite get to buying/consuming, or might not feel quite right about spending money on, arrive one day in the form of a gift from someone else. Meant for your child of course. But when it’s something like this it’s a gift for the whole family.
I had planned to get hold of B.J. Novak’s new book – his first children’s book – when I saw this clever marketing trick/YouTube clip to promote the title. Also, as I said here, I liked his book of (adult) short stories. The guy can write. He has some clever ideas going on.
Well this one is one of those so-smart/why-didn’t-I-think-of-it moments where the writer/director/actor has so much fun with language – for and through both its sounds and through the look of words, and the way the colours, fonts and design can shape our interpretation.
It is, as its plain title and cover page announce, a book with no pictures. Only words then. Meaning the reader becomes actor/interpreter for the audience of children/grandchildren. It shows the power of words and how we can use them to lift imaginations, how the very sound of a word is enough to illicit laughter. My favourite book in some time. Re-reading it is always a pleasure and never a chore. And though I enjoy reading books aloud – and I love reading books to my son Oscar – I’ve never really been one to take on an actor-role, to go with the colours and to make a performance. The subtle trick of this book is that you do that without realising it.