The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket

by John Boyne (Doubleday) ISBN 978-0-857-53146-9

 

John Boyne’s third novel for young readers has been listed for the Irish Book Award: Children’s Book of the Year and the Carnegie Medal 2013. It tells the story of Barnaby Brocket, born in Sydney “the Most Magnificent City in the World”, to parents who above all else need their lives and children to be normal.

 

That is where the trouble begins since Barnaby is not normal. Defying the laws of gravity Barnaby floats and is simply unable to keep his feet on the ground. His parents put up with this condition for eight years and then do a terrible thing: they cut Barnaby loose, literally.

 

Barnaby drifts on a wonderful journey around the globe meeting many wonderful people who also don’t fit their parents’ ideas of normal whether by some innate condition or by choice. In breaking free from their moulds they often find extraordinary lives.

 

But young Barnaby misses his family and via regular postcards updates them on his return. This is postponed by various mishaps, the last one floating him to a place where he for the first time feels so at ease with his condition that we wonder whether he ever wants to be normal.

 

With lovely illustrations by Oliver Jeffers this is a fun and inspirational book about the perks of being different. 

 

Josine Overdevest

3.5/5

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