The Incredible Book Eating Boy, by Oliver Jeffers

I am so sorry for the silence over the last couple of weeks. After the Advent Blogathon, I had a break over Christmas as I had to submit my proposal for my MA creative dissertation. It took a LONG time! I will write a bit about this when my proposal has been accepted but suffice it to say it concerns ghost stories, graveyards and the Gothic. I am in my element! ūüôā

Anyway, on to my review of The Incredible Book Eating Boy, by Oliver Jeffers.

image courtesy of

You’re supposed to¬†read books, right?


According to Henry, books are for eating: first a word, then a sentence, then a whole page and finally a whole book at a time. At first, this satisfies Henry’s hunger for knowledge and… well, I suppose paper, but then all the books give him verbal indigestions and things start going very wrong.

Jeffers’¬†story is a humorous look at how books are good for you … when they are consumed correctly! His trademark illustrations bring the story to life¬†and are unique, almost tactile in appearance, placed over pages from other¬†sources such as dictionaries, graph paper, etc.

 image courtesy of

The Year 2s I read this to yesterday loved the above picture, especially how a book can show a boy being sick in the loo. Some didn’t know that you COULD be sick in the loo, which¬†made me rather concerned about where they normally head to when they feel unwell. And there’s a great Irish¬†word for being sick in this too – ‘boke’ so¬†even¬†in¬†grossness there is learning!

The¬†book went down well with the seven-year-olds, who listened attentively to the story. We chatted about what books might taste like –¬†suggestions included ‘wood’ and¬†‘slime buckets’ and¬†‘paper’. Henry’s favourite books are red ones, and the children thought that these must either taste of¬†strawberries or tomato ketchup. When I asked whether eating all these books could really make Henry the smartest being in the world (he¬†becomes smarter than his parents and teacher), one girl very seriously said that¬†God was the smartest and no one could beat him. They were relieved when Henry started using books in the ‘traditional’ way – ie reading them¬†– and thought that eating them was not a¬†great idea because our library wouldn’t be in such a nice state if we had people like Henry in the world.

The end pages and cover of the book have been cleverly printed, with teeth-like chunks taken out of the bottom corner. The children actually thought that Henry had been in the library and had bitten the book! When I reassured them that this was clever book-making, they were keen to see that their teeth matched the size of the fake ones. It was all I could do to stop them taking their own little bites.

This is a superb book for all children, and would work very well with those who feel a little reluctant about reading. As a book to read with a group, there are all sorts of fun talking points, such as what books taste like and which type would you choose, how difficult it would be to eat a book, and what happens when you eat words.


One comment

  1. Talking if graveyards and ghosts, have you read Jeremy Visick by David Wiseman, my Dad? It is set in Cornwall and is set both in contemporary times and at the height of the tin mining industry . Love the sound of this book eating boy story! ūüôā


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