The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak

“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures..” This quote from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is one that my four-year-old very much agreed with until recently. When I asked if he’d like to read a book called The Book With No Pictures during a trip to the library he exclaimed, “No pictures? No way that will be really boring!” I convinced him to trust me on this and once he’d reluctantly agreed to listen he was not disappointed.

The Book With No Pictures written by B. J. Novak and published by Puffin is a picture book with one major difference, there are of course, no pictures.


This book is designed to be read aloud to a child and starts by letting them know that when someone is reading a book that means they have to read every word, no matter what it says. The book then takes complete advantage of that by presenting the reader with all manner of silly things to say out loud.

This is of course, hilarious for any young child as they hear a grown up say things like, “I am a monkey who taught myself to read.” and “my head is made of blueberry pizza.” As well as randomly having to shout out nonsense words there is also the opportunity for the adult to burst in to a rather absurd song about eating ants.

The words in this book could be extended into activities for children such as writing their own nonsense words and trying to get people to pronounce them. Having no pictures, this book can fire children’s imaginations to draw the pictures that it conjures up; how about drawing a hippo called Boo Boo Butt, robot monkeys or even a robot monkey whose head is made of blueberry pizza!?

I’ve read some reviews of this book that said it lacked any real substance, being completely one dimensional and relying on cheap laughs. As the mother of a four-year-old I know that it is not that difficult to make him laugh, just the mere mention of poo will do it. However I think this book, as simple as it may be, holds great value in its potential to open the world of books to children who are yet to discover them.

Here is a book that is funny, really funny. It contains words that don’t make sense and sound silly. And yes, some adults will see it as full of cheap laughs but I can tell you that my four-year-old loves it. We have read it many times and he laughs all the way through, every time. He repeats parts of it to make himself and others laugh, he tells people about it with a look of true joy on his face. The measure of a children’s book is how much children enjoy it, they are who the books are written for. And this book, even without any pictures, is a sure fire winner.

To see just how funny children think this book is there’s a video of the author reading it to a room full of children here.

Read With Me

12 thoughts on “The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak

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  1. I love this one! Read it to a class at the start of the year and they were hooked. I think they made me read it three times in a row (and they probably would happily have let me read it even more!) Great choice! #readwithme


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