The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket – John Boyne

“This is the story if 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.”

The Brockets are completely normal, they dislike anything that is considered different and are overjoyed when their first two children appear to be completely normal. The Brockets have spent their lives trying to stay out of the limelight, some may call them boring, they would turned their noses up at those people. When they are expecting their third child they have no reason to suspect that Barnaby will be any different to them or his brother and sister, except he is. Barnaby defies the law of gravity, he floats, all the way to the ceiling, or whatever else can stop him. For eight years the Brockets put up with this floating business but soon, enough is enough and they decide that Barnaby has to go. 

Confused and alone Barnaby floats away from his mother and into the path of a hot air balloon. Meeting two wonderful people who offer to take him to Brazil then on to home Barnaby feel a little better, but his adventure is just beginning. 

Wow!!! Ok so this book, this book right here; READ IT! It’s so, so good. It was likened to Matilda and for good reason but it’s more than good enough to stand alone from Matilda and make a name for itself. Its easy to read, the characters Barnaby meets throughout the book are both fantastic and wicked and Barnaby is such a sweet little boy that you can’t help but love him. 

The way that Barnaby Brocket is written is story-telling like. Its all third person and has a narrator who speaks straight to the reader. It’s as if you are sat watching a film with a voiceover and it works so well. I often read books and think “I’ll keep this one for my kids” and Barnaby Brocket is definitely one that is written to read aloud at bedtime. The writing flows really well and there are characters who jump out of the page at you with their huge personalities; the voices you could put on for them would be great! 

With the characters you get such a wide mix of people. To start of you are introduced largely to Barnaby’s family, so his parents and his brother and sister. I hated his parents and they’re awful narrow mindedness, it made sense once you knew their background but then they were also hypocrites as well as narrow minded. Thankfully not a lot had rubbed off on Henry and Melanie though and although they were normal enough for their parents affection, they did like to use their imaginations and have fun, and not be drab. Once the ‘terrible thing’ happens Barnaby meets more and more people, including a pair of old ladies who are very happy together (not that Barnaby gets that but he’s very acceptable of them and its a great way to introduce LGBT themes to a younger audience) but whose families turfed them out when they were young, a young girl who has found out she is pregnant and her father who is not talking to her because of it, a window cleaner on the Crysler Building who loves his art and lives in the basement and more ‘freaks like him’ who are traveling with the awful Mr Hoseasons. I loved all the characters that Barnaby met, both mentioned here and not, and I loved what they added to the overall feel of the book. The mini stories that each of the characters had about their lives, both past and present really added a lot and I loved them all. 

The book was supported by some fantastic illustrations which gathered the ideas of what Barnaby was up to and the people he met so well. They really made me laugh some of them and I think that many children will appreciate the art within the pages. 

The overall theme of the book is that it’s ok to be different, that you shouldn’t just be who you are expected or wanted to be, that as long as you are a nice, caring person and are happy then nothing else matters and that is such an important thing to consider in children’s fiction. I loved the conclusion of the book and I really hope that there’s another book about Barnaby, but if there’s not my imagination was never forced out and I can just imagine the types of things that came next for Barnaby! 

The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket will be published on August 2nd by Random House Children’s Publishers. My copy was sent from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. 


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