The Boy Who Knew Nothing by James Thorp, illustrated by Angus MacKinnon. Templar Books, 9781536217131, 2019 (first U.S. edition 2021)
Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3
Genre: Picture book-discovery
What did you like about the book? Illustrated in ink and colored digitally, this narrative told in rhyme follows a boy who, as the title says, knows nothing. As his life begins on the island of Solo Capoo, the story centers on a boy who discovers an unknown item in a dress-up box. Looking for answers, he visits numerous wise people around the island to no avail. Eventually he travels far and wide and discovers how to get the answers to his question while learning about so many more. Creatively drawn images in multiple perspectives accompany the boy’s journey. Illustrations are bold with deep colors which add to the energy of his journey of discovery. The vocabulary is simple and fits the age group for which the text is written. A though provoking tale about the acquisition of knowledge.
Anything you didn’t like about it? The cadence of the rhyme used does not always match, for example: “I went for a prowl, and spotted an owl, and now I know all the things owls like to howl”. The illustrative perspective may confuse younger readers, wondering why a bicycle would be half as tall as a house. Characters are two-dimensional: aside from knowing that the boy does not know anything, we learn little about him.
To whom would you recommend this book? Young readers of all ages who enjoy stories in rhyme about adventure may enjoy this tale.
Who should buy this book? Educators in elementary schools or story time presenters could use this vibrantly illustrated story.
Where would you shelve it? Picture book-discovery
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? I feel that this title would reside at the middle.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Elena Schuck, Nathaniel H. Wixon Intermediate School, Dennis, Massachusetts
Date of review: May 27, 2021