I think it’s fair to assume that if you’re reading this blog, you’re maybe just a little “bookish.” The readerly type, if you will. There wouldn’t be much point of you getting my emails and bothering to read them and comment if you didn’t love books and didn’t want to read them to small children. Unless, of course, you’re my mom and just want to read whatever it is I’m writing (Hi, Mom!)- but still, who do you think taught me to read? My point is, we’re all book lovers here. When I was a little girl, I read anything I could get my grubby little hands on. I read with a flashlight under my covers long past bedtime. I read things over and over and over. I devoured books.
But not like Henry. (Did you catch that obvious segue?)
Henry, the little boy in Oliver Jeffers’ super creative 2007 book “The Incredible Book Eating Boy,” he actually eats them. He starts by experimenting with a page, then another, then in a move that sent my five year old into stitches, he just digs into a book with a fork and knife at the dinner table. He finds that he retains the knowledge in the books he eats, becoming smarter and smarter. Who’s this brilliant boy who knows all the answers to the crossword and can spew out mathematical equations to rival Will Hunting?
However, all good things must come to an end, and Henry becomes a little…backed up. It’s hard to digest all that information. His belly goes all wonky and he starts spewing out nonsense. Fully shamed, he stops eating books and eventually, almost accidentally, picks one up and reads it. Lo and behold he finds that he learns from it that way too, and his belly thanks him for it. (Look for the result of a slight relapse at the back of the book- my son was in hysterics.)
Like all of Irishman Oliver Jeffers’ books, the story is warm and clever and, well awesome. However, it’s the illustrations that blow it out of the water. The text and quirky watercolor/pencil drawings are printed over (or have incorporated into them) vintage bookpages, lined notebook paper, dictionary pages, maps, work tickets, gridsheets, latin exercises, anything that can be read. This is design at its finest, folks.
Now, it’s everything that I can do to not conclude this post with another overt eating-related pun. Nope, not going to do it.