Monday 27 August 2012

The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne

Pages -276
Published by Doubleday, an imprint of Random House Children's Books in August 2012
This is the story of Barnaby Brocket, and to understand Barnaby, first you have to understand his parents; two people who were so afraid of anyone who was different that they did a terrible thing that would have the most appalling consequences for everyone they loved. 
Goodreads Summary
Barnaby Brocket is an ordinary 8-year-old boy in most ways, but he was born different in one important way: he floats. Unlike everyone else, Barnaby does not obey the law of gravity. His parents, who have a horror of being noticed, want desperately for Barnaby to be normal, but he can't help who he is. And when the unthinkable happens, Barnaby finds himself on a journey that takes him all over the world. From Brazil to New York, Canada to Ireland, and even to space, the floating boy meets all sorts of different people--and discovers who he really is along the way. 

This whimsical novel will delight middle graders, and make readers of all ages question the meaning of normal.
The terrible thing that happened to Barnaby Brocket, wasn't really a terrible thing in my eyes, because it made him see how truly special he was. OK, his mother went against any scrap of maternal instinct she might have had and didn't really lose any sleep over what she did, but to be honest, Barnaby was much better off with out his parents. 
Barnaby was exceptional, clever, mature and thoughtful; the kind of child you would love and adore. The only thing that made him different from other children was that he could float and when he began to float he normally had difficulty stopping. His unique ability made him different and his parents just couldn't cope with it. They were just too nomal, living in Normalville, with every aspect of their life in line with normality. To me normal is boring, so I quickly dismissed his parents and not worth having, reminiscent of Matilda's parents in Roald Dahl's classic. 
The comparisons to Dahl are well founded, as the story brings back to life the horrible adults, Roald Dahl was so famous for creating. The story has the same kind of magic, that Dahl was so good at breathing into his books. There is also that strong sense of good morals and justice being served to those who aren't very nice. I can almost imagineRoald Dahl nodding his head in approval at such a brilliant contrast to his own work.
This book really makes you realise that it is perfectly fine to be different from everyone else. You don't have to follow the crowd, you can be yourself and you won't appear abnormal. Your uniqueness makes you special. 
I loved the way Barnaby would pay it forward for every kind act that came his way. He never took for granted the help he received from others and always went out of his way to return the favour. With each new person he met, he took away valuable lessons which helped him to love who he was. 
I adored the illustrations within the book, with the postcards being some of my favourites. Oliver Jeffers excellent art work reminded me so much of Quentin Blake's illustrations which were often used with Roald Dahl's books. 
This really is a timeless and beautiful tale that will find a home among the best loved chidren's classics. 


  1. Brilliant review Viv, I'm so glad you adored this one as much as I did, it such a wondeerful book!

  2. I loved this, especially it's relation to Roald Dahl's books.

  3. Loving this author's books, I'm away to add this to my wish list.

  4. This book sounds incredible and all I'm hearing are great, great things. Really must get it! And comparisons to Dahl? Well that seals it! :D Great review!


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