The Book with No Pictures

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
The Book with No Pictures Book Poster Image
No pictures but oodles of silly words and giggles.

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 3+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Simple, large type may help younger kids read or identify some words. Kids can contemplate whether a made-up word such as "BLUURFF" has any meaning. Kids may be inspired to make up their own words and sounds or write a story with made-up words and silly directions that a parent must read. 

Positive Messages

The underlying message is that reading is fun, and making up words and silly stories is fun. B.J. Novak makes a compelling case that a book with no pictures can be as entertaining as one with pictures.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The narrator, who speaks directly to the reader/listener, has a charming sense of humor and promotes reading and having a good time with words.

Violence & Scariness

Use of "butt " as part of a silly name for a hippo. One mention of "Ba-DOONGY FACE," but it's not directed at anyone.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Book with No Pictures, by actor/comedian/screenwriter B.J. Novak (The Office, Saving Mr. Banks), is a very funny book that asks the reader to say all sorts of silly things to prove that a book with only words can be fun and entertaining. A fantastic choice as a read-aloud. Get ready for giggles and guffaws.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymcy2019 September 7, 2019

Fun and interactive book with one minor flaw

We love this book in my family. I have a 5.5 yo and a 2.5 yo. They roar with laughter as I read the pages in silly voices. The one minor flaw is the inclusion... Continue reading
Adult Written byWendyann4 May 19, 2015

Kids love it

My kids love this book and have a blast asking adults to read it aloud. My only negative comment is that it unnecessarily uses the word "butt".
Teen, 17 years old Written bysusieboo July 12, 2015

Fun, no matter what your age!

I'm seventeen, and my friend (nineteen) and I were walking through a bookstore when we stumbled across this book. The title grabbed us, and neither of us... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBentleDolores August 9, 2018

Simply the BEST way of ridiculous.

I don't really remember the book because my teacher read it when I was in the fourth grade, but I do remember laughing really hard. There are a lot of boo... Continue reading

What's the story?

The narrator speaks directly to the reader, saying that it probably seems as if a book with no pictures will be "boring and serious. Except ... Here's how books work: Everything the words say, the person reading the book has to say. No matter what." So as the pages turn, the reader has to say words such as "BLORK" and "BLUURF" and must read in a monkey voice, then a robot voice, per the instructions. Only a few words per page in different colors and type size add to the fun, including the giant red name of a hippo: "BOO BOO BUTT." The reader must sing and make all kinds of silly sounds, too. The book ends with the narrator telling the reader, "Next time, please please please please please choose a book with pictures. Please? Because this is just too ridiculous to read." And then he throws in one more red "BONK."

Is it any good?

Author B.J. Novak hilariously proves his point: that a book with only words can be as amusing and engaging as one with images. THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES is super silly and very clever as it panders to young kids' love of funny sounds, made-up words, and undignified words such as "butt." 

Novak's comic timing is impeccable, his tone light. Kids will delight in seeing their parents or teachers compelled to say ridiculous things such as, "Yes, I am a monkey" and "my head is made of blueberry pizza." This radical non-picture book goes a long way toward fostering a love of reading -- robot voice optional. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about teh silly words and noises in The Book with No Pictures. What's so funny about them? 

  • Are you now convinced that a book without pictures can be as fun as a book that has pictures? How about a book that has pictures but no words?

  • What do you think about a narrator speaking directly to you, the reader? Does that help make the story funnier? 

Book details

  • Author: B.J. Novak
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Dial
  • Publication date: September 30, 2014
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 3 - 8
  • Number of pages: 48
  • Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

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