100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

“It’s a Book About Nothing”


I’ve recently noticed something about children’s books.


Nothing has become something.

If there’s one requirement for a book, it’s that the book be about something. Because of this, nothing is the ultimate subversion – it makes sense that children’s book creators would want to toy with that.

In the past few years, the idea of nothing being something has been mined in a number of different ways.

As an antidote to the perceived business of modern life:

As empathy for the inevitable boredom of childhood:

As “be careful what you wish for” humor:


As a meditation on the meaning of nothingness:

And as the set-up for a reminder that no self-respecting book for kids is truly about nothing:

Here’s the thing about nothing: it can be anything you want.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Yeah, actually, this could be true. That thing happening on my language (Turkish) too. I cannot be sure is that good or bad thing.

  2. What an interesting trend! All of these look so delightful, and I can see kids benefitting later on for having these “antidote[s] to the perceived business of modern life,” as you say. Thank you for sharing!