Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Vanished Visuals

It would be hard to guesstimate the number of books without images lining bookshelves in homes, shops and libraries or stuffed into the memory of devices.  The word gazillion comes to mind.  What might make that amount easier to calculate is to narrow the field.  If we were to ask how many books for younger children have no illustrations, the sum might be simpler to reach.

A book with no pictures for kids doesn't even make sense.  During a read aloud, the first thing they want to see are the pictures.  In fact as a story is read, the listeners get closer and closer to you so they don't miss a single item in the visuals.

Nevertheless author B. J. Novak has written a book for children and their readers relying on the power of the spoken word.  The Book With No Pictures (Dial Books For Young Readers) is exactly as the title suggests.  There is not one single picture anywhere except for the tiny Penguin logo on the spine and next to the ISBN.

This is a book with no pictures.

In a completely conversational tone the narrator goes on to point out the obvious facts; reading a book with no pictures will be sadly lacking in fun bordering on boring and drop dead serious.  But with a page turn, the tables are turned when another key point is made.  Whatever the written words say, the reader has to say.

There is no way around this possible dilemma.   It is the unwritten rule of reading aloud.  No matter if the words are as wacky as can be, they must be spoken.

Immediately two words, which could only come from some remote alien planet, appear on the page.  Now the voice of the person reading aloud, the response to this exercise in hilarity, starts to appear on the pages.  Incredulity is predominant.

The reader is forced to declare identities and physical traits, not once, not twice but three times, which are absolutely not true.  Then along comes a nonsensical song, a pledge of friendship to a rather large creature with an alliterative name, and truly eye-rolling declarations about a certain child.  The finishing touch comes bursting off the page in a bonanza of goofy words to be read aloud loudly.  A plea ensues with the original narrator having the last word...well almost.

B. J. Novak's gift is in knowing exactly what form humor should take in order to entertain his audience.  The amount of text, the words used, and the font style, size and color on each page is done with distinct skill.  Wit wins with the interplay of the narrator's voice, what the reader has to read and the reader's responses.

If you have ever had any doubts about the power of pure storytelling, a connection between the teller and the audience, The Book With No Pictures written by B. J. Novak sets those to rest.  What I see happening with a reading of this book is the reader's intonation and facial expressions become the visual portion of the book.  If this is read silently, each reader will create their own mental pictures of the interactions taking place based upon their personal experiences.  This is exceedingly clever, loaded with comedy and a surefire hit with the intended audience and... others of almost any age too.

For all kinds of information about this book, please visit a special specific website by following the link embedded in the title.  There is a section for grownups, kids, teachers and celebrity enthusiasts.  Follow teacher librarian and blogger at Reederama, Jennifer Reed, was fortunate to have B. J. Novak visit her school this past week.  Please read her blog post about this fun-tastic experience.  Here's an interesting piece, B. J. Novak is not a celebrity author. (Oh, really?): An interview, in The Horn Book Magazine.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mom of Xena!!
    I am running the Book Blog awards this year and wanted to let you know nominations have been extended and are now open until october 12th. I'd recommend yours for the children's book blog award =) There are 13 awards up for grabs. You may nominate your own blog or ask your readers to nominate you. Readers vote on November 15th.
    Please leave a comment on my blog or tweet me @emancipatedmimi to get the badge to add to your site. You may use it to encourage your readers to vote for your blog on Nov 15th. The awards are intended to be fun and exciting, and get your blog some exposure as well. Hope you will join =) I'm usually on twitter so tweet me anytime with questions or comments =)
    official announcement video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hA0Utyx6hMI
    NOMINATE here: http://docs.google.com/forms/d/1LJfSPMYlHSND3LZAypVoNak-nt67jeW5UHfjU6_GyHo/viewform
    VOTE HERE on Nov 15: http://docs.google.com/forms/d/1jAz1fJ-30YuNZvijMm0JN6rxj_yhjSU7rVqSIZFlOtI/viewform?edit_requested=true