Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Nothing Book Poster Image
Witty jibe at consumer frenzy older kids will get.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book is perfect for readers who enjoy witty word play, especially if it celebrates human silliness. Those who do not like witty twists and deadpan humor may not get the point.

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What's the story?

After the richest lady in town goes on a spending spree, buying up all the "nothing" she can find, the entire town is caught up in the frenzy. Soon having "nothing" is all the rage ... until Suzie Gump realizes she needs something. The tide begins to turn and the shopkeeper learns to watch what he says.

Is it any good?

The Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen will immediately pop into the reader's mind when reading this fun book. Suzie Gump walks into Otis's antique store, demanding to spend three hundred dollars for "nothing"... especially after the shopkeeper actually sells it to her, and the townspeople unquestioningly follow in her footsteps buying up all the rest of "nothing" in town. In this case, however, Otis did not set out to dupe the richest lady in town, and it does not take an innocent child to set the matter straight. The lesson here is not so much about vanity as it is about the foolish things people do because of peer pressure, fashion, and consumer frenzy.

Older readers will get the point at once, and will shake their heads laughingly at the sheep-like shoppers. Younger kids may not get the joke until they have read the book through a couple of times, and talked about whether nothing can actually become something, or not, and what all the fuss is about. But they will still enjoy it. All readers will find the witty, off-beat watercolors engaging and fun to look at.

Jon Agee is a multi-award-winning illustrator and author known for his laugh-out-loud stories, dead-pan humor, comic illustrations, and wordplay, wordplay, wordplay.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what nothing means. Why was Suzie Gump so excited about buying nothing? Would you pay three hundred dollars for nothing, like she did? Why did she want more? And, why did everyone else in the town suddenly want nothing too? What caused such a frenzy? Have you ever wanted something just because someone else had it? Is that the same as when all the townspeople stormed the stores trying to buy nothing? Do you think people can convince you to buy things even when buying them doesn't make much sense?

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