Here’s a book that takes nothing seriously.
The opening pages explicitly list all the things that it is not about: rainbows, socks, meatballs, doctors, tacos, princesses, and underpants are on that list. Instead, it sets out to explore the concept of nothing. The narrator is depicted as a dodo wearing a monocle, and its tone is that of an adult talking to a small child. Almost all the pages have something child readers and adult caregivers can relate to, from picking up toys (“there will be nothing on the floor”) and finishing meals (“there will be nothing left”) to noises in the dark (don’t worry—it’s nothing!). Bender (Awkward Family Photos, 2010) and Murphy’s (T-Rex Trying, 2014) picture book elicits a chuckle, and the predominantly black and white images with bold splashes of color are at times endearing. Line-drawn cartoon animals, fairly realistically rendered save for the anthropomorphic props, pose in appropriately negative space, occasional details (the dodo’s yellow bill and feet, an anteater’s red-and-white–checked neckerchief, a crocodile’s purple pajamas) picked out in bright, matte color. However, although it constantly and positively reframes nothing as something, the picture book leaves readers wondering whether “nothing” can always ethically be equated to a thing of value.
Reading this book might not be for nothing…but it begs the question: is nothing really something? And more importantly, is (doing/being/saying) nothing always OK? (Picture book. 3-6)