Celebrities are, by definition, some of the most viewed and talked about members of our society—and sometimes they leave their normal professions and write books for kids. Which begs some key questions: Why would someone famous break from their usual routine to write a book for kids? And how do these books stand up against their non-celebrity-based counterparts?
When someone thinks of the seminal television series, NBC’s The Office, lots of things come to mind, but probably not the phrase, I think these guys should make a children’s book. Well, B.J. Novak, who plays Ryan on the show and is also a writer, director, and executive producer, actually released a picture book in 2014 titled, The Book With No Pictures (Dial Books). This book stands out from the traditional children’s book for the obvious reason that it has, well, no pictures.
In a Boston Globe interview with Kate Tuttle, Novak says, “What’s the kind of book, what would be the kids’ dream book? And I thought that it would be a book that would get the grownups to say ridiculous things they didn’t want to say.” Kate Tuttle notes that, “The result was The Book with No Pictures, a perfectly-pitched tool for parental humiliation and childish glee.” As such, The Book with No Pictures is exactly what Novak claims: a book that uses language and typography to create a wacky story that children love to listen to. Every page of The Book with No Pictures is a wild ride of parents telling their children about a friendly hippo named Boo Boo Butt or blueberry pizza.
I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book. The fact that it has no pictures cuts your expectations off at the knees. After reading it, I can say that this is a charming story sure to engage children. BJ Novak takes the same kind of charming offbeat energy seen in The Office and imbues it into this picture book incredibly well. The book stands on its own, and I’m sure that I wouldn’t have praised it any less if someone else had written it. I actually was impressed that someone who writes for an adult audience was able to easily translate their humor for kids. Overall, I highly recommend The Book with No Pictures.
PRR Writer, Jon Kresal