The Book With No Pictures, by B.J. Novak

This morning in my house sounded like this:

“Do I HAVE to get up?”
“Yes. It’s time for school.”

“But why can’t I wear this [short sleeved summer dress]?”
“Because there’s a foot of snow outside, find something with sleeves please.”

“May I have O’s for breakfast?”
“Ooooh, I’m sorry, we ate the last of the O’s yesterday- flakes it is.”

Seriously. As I’m sitting here thinking about it, my four year old didn’t have much of a say in how her morning went. Sure, I try to give her choices throughout the day and let her feel somewhat empowered- “This sweater or that one?” “You can color or play with your stickers.” “Apple or orange for lunch?” “Choose whichever story you want, just climb into bed.” But sometimes, like with cereal this morning, not much can be done.

And this is why I think she loves “The Book with No Pictures” by B.J. Novak (you know him as the guy from “The Office”).

The Book with No Pictures, by B.J. Novak- from

Some of our favorite read-aloud children’s books are those that are interactive, that engage the reader as part of the experience (i.e. Press Here, or Open This Little Book). This picture-less picture book does exactly that. With nothing but printed words on white pages, it involves not only the listener, but the reader in a riotously funny escapade.

The joke is on the reader here, much to the delight of the listener.

The Book with No Pictures, B.J. Novak- from

You see, you as the reader must read aloud what is written, regardless of how preposterous it is.

The Book With No Pictures, by B.J. Novak- from

And when kids realize that this book is going to force their parents to say all these crazy words, they absolutely lose it. Take my word for it.
The Book with No Pictures, by B.J. Novak- from

On one page you may be declaring yourself a monkey, nay, a robot monkey. On another you’re just saying crazy words like Glibbity-Globbity or singing about eating ants for breakfast. And you have to say it, ‘cuz it’s in the book, you know?

The Book with No Pictures, by B.J. Novak- from

So simple, so imaginative, so funny.

The Book with No Pictures, by B.J. Novak- from www.ameliesbookshelf.comMy four year old loves it, my six year old loves it- and as a beginning reader, he was immediately motivated to go back to the beginning and try reading it to his sister.

A dear old friend posted this video onto my Facebook page (click here and go ahead and “like” it if you do), and I ran out and found the book the next day at our local bookstore. (Thanks again, Marieke, you’ll be reading this to your little one soon enough!)




These aren’t book reviews, per se, but more profiles of the really, really good ones. Recommendations, really, for which I am not compensated. If you’re looking to buy any of them you can click on the the links and cover photos in each post, OR you can click on the little box over there on the right that says “amelie’s bookshop (buy the books)” and it will take you to my Amazon Affiliate store- you’re buying them as you normally would through Amazon, except that I get a teeny tiny commission. Or even better, walk on down to your local independent bookseller and support them.

24 thoughts on “The Book With No Pictures, by B.J. Novak

    • I mean, just the video of him reading it is wonderful! I can’t believe how much snow we’ve gotten in the last few days- I expect snow before Thanksgiving and all, but we’re completely blanketed. Lots of shoveling to do.


  1. I checked this book out at the library. I’m glad to see your review. I saw it as a great book when reading to a large group of kids — who feed off each other with their giggles — but wondered how it would be one-on-one with a parent/child. It’s a great interactive book and does challenge the reader.


  2. I love the post (great pics, by the way), and that video is absolutely genius. I still haven’t been able to make up my mind about this book. Yes, my kids think it’s funny, although not to-die-for funny (like, say, “Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads”), then again clearly I am not as entertaining as Novak himself. 😉 But doesn’t a tiny little part of you feel like producing a picture book with no pictures is kind of a cop-out? (Yes, this coming from someone who’s posting tomorrow about the power of language. But. Still.) After all, this is what makes this venue captivating on multiple levels–the marriage of words with pictures, the meaning lying in the intersection between the two. Ok ok, I know, Novak is intentionally breaking with convention, it’s post-modern, it’s making us think, yadda yadda. Still, it feels a little too easy. Or maybe I just have it out for celebrity authors, ha! Press Here and Open This Little Book still win. 🙂


    • I don’t think it’s any more of a cop out than books without words- and certainly not easier than your typical picture book, since there are no illustrations to rely on, so the text has to be spot on. I think celebrity authors are such a tricky group- it’s kind of a trendy thing to do, “I’m a major rock star, I can just whip out a children’s book!” But it’s not that easy, is it? I mean, just because it’s not a 300 page novel doesn’t make it simple to write- when you only have 50 words to tell your story, every single word has to be exactly right. And a lot of the celebrity books fall flat or are saved by the illustrations. VERY few hit the right chord. My two cents. Thanks for reading!


  3. Love your post about this awesome book, love that you and your kids loved it and indeed, can’t wait to read to my wee one soon!


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