What we’re reading: The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers

Have you ever devoured a book?

I thought I had – until I met Henry.

He loves them so much, he physically eats them. It starts page by page but before long he can swallow an encyclopaedia whole, a bit like a snake or Baby Bookworm’s great uncle who can suck down a whole jelly (quite the Christmas Day party trick).

His habit starts to make him feel happier, healthier and more intelligent until he discovers that those old sayings persist for a reason – you can get too much of a good thing and everything in moderation.

These timeless ideas are the basis for a really quite memorable picture book by Oliver Jeffers, both in story and in style.

Oliver has a real knack of taking and exploring a simple idea in a thoughtful and humorous way that both small children and parents can appreciate.

A book about books and the benefits they bring is a beautiful thing. And as child who was always told I’d swallowed a dictionary, it never fails to raise a wry smile from me.

But what really adds the stardust is the artwork. Oliver has another career as a fine artist and his picture books push boundaries.

While Henry is very similar to the boy in Oliver’s debut How to Catch A Star and three subsequent ones – Lost & Found, The Way Back Home and Up & Down – the illustrations are all created on pages and jackets of old books, with sections of text used in a collage effect.

You could happily hang them on your wall – as authors M.G. Leonard and Rob Biddulph have both told me they would love to.

The book ends with a heartwarming revelation for our hero and a witty little nod to his former habit that we just love.

It’s so good, you’ll want to eat it all up.

The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers. £6.99 (paperback), HarperCollins Children’s. Buy from Amazon

Read more…
We meet bestselling author and artist Oliver Jeffers
We review The Boy, a hardback compilation of Oliver Jeffers’ beloved stories
Oliver Jeffers shares the books and authors who have inspired him

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