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The Incredible Book Eating boy is a story about just that…an incredible book eating boy. Oliver Jeffers tells the story of Henry who, quite by mistake, discovers that he loves to eat books. He eats all sorts of books but red ones are his favourites. Henry soon learns that the more books he eats, the smarter he gets and he loves being the smartest person in the class. He begins to go through books at an alarming rate until things start to go wrong – everything he learns gets mixed up and he doesn’t have time to digest it properly. The doctors advise him to stop eating books because his belly can’t cope and it’s not fair on all the other people who want to read them. Having not eaten a book for a while, he finds a half-eaten book on the floor and instead of eating it he opens it up and READS it! He realises that he loves to read and that if he reads enough he could still become the smartest person in the world.

This unusually engaging book would be of fantastic use in a KS1 or lower KS2 classroom. The moral of the story ties in perfectly with the promotion of reading enjoyment which is being so greatly stressed in primary schools today. It informs children of the different types of books available and describes how we can learn an infinite amount from reading books.

Jeffers illustrates his own work which really brings the story to life as the reader can actually visualise just what the author wants to get across. The illustrations are bright, colourful and edgy and give the reader extra ‘hidden information’ through the use of diagrams or witty side comments.

I would recommend this book very highly to any teacher who wants to encourage and promote the values of reading within the primary school classroom.

Reader's Reviews


Engaging, stylish and incredibly funny, this book from award winning author Oliver Jeffers follows Henry, a boy who has a huge appetite... for books. It begins with a word, a sentence, then a whole page, and after a while Henry is eating several whole books every day. As he fills his stomach with books, Henry finds that his brain is filled with all sorts of interesting things. Loving his new found knowledge, Henry eats more and more books, until one day he hits a problem. All of the information is getting so mixed up in his head that he can’t even speak, and sadly, Henry has to give up eating books. Finding a half chewed book on the floor, Henry picks it up, and begins to read. He discovers a love of reading, and the book concludes with his realisation that he can still become ‘smart’, with a bit more time. On the last page is written, in typical quirky Jeffers style, “Now Henry reads all the time.... although every now and then” with a cut out bite mark chopping off the end of the sentence.

The simple text set against a stylish background means this book is suitable for reading aloud to an older FS or Y1 class, or for older Y1/2 children to read by themselves. I read that one teacher used to introduce the book by staring, aghast, at the ‘bitten’ back cover, and demand who had been snacking on the book! Clearly it provides opportunity to use humour to engage the children, and could provoke discussion as to how they think we get information from books (if I ate a page from this book, would I get cleverer?). Henry’s love of learning could inspire any listeners or readers, and the combination of the original illustrations and humorous tone is sure to make this book a favourite in any library, school or home.


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Parental Guidance

  • Reading Age: 6-7
  • Reading Aloud Age: 5-7


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