The Boy Who Knew Nothing

Following The Elephant in the Room, The Boy Who Knew Nothing is the latest book from this successful duo. The sing-song rhythm of the text is matched by the unique look of the illustrations. While the pictures might be an acquired taste for some, others will recognise the Comic Expressionist psychedelia of the 1960s (think Alan Aldridge and Seymour Chwast) with extra- added luminous pink.

Thorp writes about a child who is not just innocently ignorant. He is a ‘stupid’, ‘daft’ ‘fool’. Thankfully the child doesn’t take these insults to heart, and when he finds a big pink bird amongst his parents’ shoes, he ventures off on his penny farthing bicycle, determined to discover what the creature is called.

The fool/child travels through a mind-bending, trippy world of witches and astronauts, to be told that his creature is either an elf, an owl, a giraffe, a fox or a video-game-playing gnu. It seems he is not the only ignorant one. There are some bizarre moments in this story, and the pictures don’t add any clarity. The ending feels a bit rushed, but we do learn the moral that is neatly tied up for us: ‘If ever there’s something you don’t understand, don’t be too frightened to put up your hand.’ It’s a bright, entertaining book for ages 5 – 7.