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The Incredible Book-Eating Boy

Friday, 17 October 2008 by Irene Hoofs

The Incredible Book-Eating Boy
by Oliver Jeffers

"Henry loved books. But not like you and I love books, no. Not quite...
Henry loved to EAT books. (...) But here is the best bit: The more he ate, the smarter he got."

This is Oliver Jeffers third book, and my (=Lorena Siminovich) favorite so far. What makes this book so special is his ability to defy picture book rules, creating a thoroughly modern, innovative book yet an instant classic.
First the story: After eating a lot of books and becoming very smart, Henry's increasing appetite gives him indigestion. e realizes that maybe a better way to enjoy books is to read them instead. However the book ends with an image of Henry eating broccoli while reading, and the line: "Henry reads all the time although every now and then...". At the end of the book there is literally a  "Bite" die-cut in the corner showing his book-eating habit may be hard to loose after all. The chewed book corner is not only a funny reminder of human behavior, but a brilliant graphic final punch.
Now to the graphics: The beautiful art is all painted on old book pages and found papers, creating a great subtle muted palette, and  old library feeling. Details of hand-written lettering and collage ephemera add to the effect.
Another outstanding element to the book, is the use of space. Jeffers avoids the typical full spread layout in favor of a quirky grid approach with smart empty spaces. The navigation of the book is therefore fresh and unexpected, and the vignettes help tell the story in delightful bites.{Thank you Lorena for writing this review!}

..the book is available here..

..Oliver Jeffers..

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