The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brockett by John Boyne (January 2013) is a highly improbable book about a child who is born with the amazing quirk of floating. Barnaby Brockett cannot help it: it is just the way he is. He and his family find solutions (a heavy bag of rocks to keep him down, a “walk” on a leash where he floats in the air behind his mother).
But by the time he is about eight years old, his parents have had enough. They are proper people, and they do not support anything out of the ordinary. A floating child is definitely out of the ordinary. When his mother lets him loose, Barnaby floats in to the atmosphere and has a series of adventures around the globe. He learns that everyone has their own quirks and he should embrace his differences just as others embrace their differences.
Barnaby Brockett is a book about acceptance of one’s self and acceptance of other people, all couched in an amusing story about a boy who is different. For him, every day is an adventure. Just as he learns to appreciate his differences, the people who read his story may learn to appreciate the differences in those around them. But beyond the not-so-subtle message, the book really is simply fun as well!
Though this book was written for children and definitely intended to be children’s books, it has so much in it that I really enjoyed it. Boyne writes for a younger audience with a talent, even about complex issues. While I wasn’t in love with either this book or Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (reviewed here), they both provided much room for thought and are enjoyable reads.
Note: I was provided with a digital copy from the publisher of Barnaby Brockett via netgalley.com for review consideration.