The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket

The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket

Book - 2013
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A tale of acceptance from the bestselling author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas .

Barnaby Brocket is an ordinary eight-year-old boy in most ways, but he was born different in one important way: he floats. His parents, who have a horror of being noticed, want desperately for Barnaby to be normal, but he can't help who he is. And when the unthinkable happens, Barnaby finds himself on a journey that takes him all over the world. From Brazil to New York, Canada to Ireland, and even into space, the floating boy meets all sorts of different people--and discovers who he really is along the way.

This whimsical novel will delight middle graders, and make readers of all ages question the meaning of "normal."
Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, 2013.
ISBN: 9780385678902
Branch Call Number: BOYNE
Characteristics: 277 p. : ill.
Additional Contributors: Jeffers, Oliver


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ChristchurchKids Dec 23, 2014

The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket is one of my favourite books of 2012. John Boyne has crafted a magical, imaginative tale that celebrates difference and takes us around the world, introducing us to an interesting cast of characters along the way. If you like Roald Dahl’s books then this is the perfect book for you. The characters in Barnaby Brocket are similar to Roald Dahl’s characters, especially Barnaby’s horrible, selfish parents. As soon as he is born, Barnaby is the bane of his parent’s life. They are normal people who want a normal life, but Barnaby is anything but. A son who floats and gets a lot of attention threatens their normal lives, so his mother does the unthinkable. The worst thing is that they don’t even regret what they did!

I love all the interesting characters that Barnaby meets on his travels. There’s Liam (the boy with hooks for hands), Joshua Pruitt (the window cleaner with a hidden talent) and the imprisoned members of Freakitude. They’re all different in their own ways and they not only help Barnaby get back home, but also help him to realise that nothing can make you happier than just being yourself.

inthestacks Apr 19, 2013

Barnaby is the third child born to Alistair and Eleanor Brocket of Sydney, Australia, who are obsessed with living very normal, inconspicuous lives, to not be noticed in any way, shape or form. Unfortunately, Barnaby is not a normal child – he floats, defying gravity the minute he is born by floating up to the ceiling of the delivery room. This does not go over well with his parents and they eventually conspire to let Barnaby, at the age of eight, float out of their lives so that things can be normal again and free themselves of the attention they get for a having a floating child. Barnaby goes on a fantastical voyage that takes him to Brazil, New York, Toronto, Ireland and even outer space --- well, actually middle space. He meets all sorts of people who have not had normal lives and who have all been rejected for one reason or another. Barnaby learns, of course, that not being normal may just be normal after all. All this sounds very high-minded and rich with life-lessons but, unfortunately, the plot devices Boyne uses to get Barnaby from one adventure to another are annoyingly awkward. No, this is not realistic fiction, but even magical fiction such as this has to follow some rules of reality. Boyne tends to bend those rules too far to make this believable even in an imaginary sense. Of course, this is a children’s novel and children may not be bothered by these inconsistencies.

McIndoo Mar 14, 2013

This is a wonderful story with lots of big themes, but the most important one is that of accepting differences and redefining "normal". Barnaby takes us on an action-packed trip around the world, literally, and brings us back to earth again with a terrific ending. The take-away: "just because your version of normal isn't the same as someone else's version doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with you" (p. 91-92). A must read for Tweens.

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CBearjkn Feb 19, 2013

CBearjkn thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


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