‘Never Ever’, by Jo Empson

Never Ever‘, by Jo Empson (published by Child’s Play)

IMG_4872For those of you who’ve read my post about Jo Empson’s ‘Rabbityness’ , you’ll know that I’m a fairly (OK, ginormously) huge fan of her work already.  I was therefore delighted to get my hands on her new book this week and it’s already very popular in our house!

Yet again, the striking illustrations and minimal text work together to form something even greater than the sum of their individual parts.  Most of us are familiar with the childhood refrain of, “I’m bored / this is boring / what can I do now?”  Despite our best efforts, sometimes it seems as though nothing we can offer them to do is exciting enough.  This story follows a little girl who is experiencing exactly this problem, except, well, she sort of isn’t


IMG_4874As the story progresses, the reader becomes gleefully aware that PLENTY of exciting things are happening while the little girl remains oblivious.  C and H found this hilarious and after we’d finished the story it inspired a ‘Never Ever’ version of one of my favourite playground games – ‘What’s The Time, Mr Wolf?’ – with the boys walking behind me pretending to be all sorts of animals.  I’d ignore them for a while, before turning round and snapping at them with big crocodile arms (inspired by the spread below).  Cue howls of laughter and much scampering away!

IMG_4875One of the many joyous features of this book is that you almost get two endings for the price of one.  I won’t spoil it for you, but needless to say the toothsome encounter above is not the end of the tale…

IMG_4876Empson has triumphed again with this book and I can see ‘never, ever, ever, ever……’ becoming a bit of a catchphrase for the boys 😉  This book has a very different feel from ‘Rabbityness’, though both have an equally luscious use of colour (and actually both use darkness to great effect as well).  The subject matter of ‘Never Ever’ is much more lighthearted and it’s amazing to see how successfully Empson writes about such different things.  Just as ‘Rabbityness’ lends itself to discussing death with children, ‘Never Ever’ lends itself to discussing boredom, which will probably – indeed hopefully – be something that children feel they experience much more frequently.  I thoroughly recommend that you seek out this book as a starting point for showing children how there is excitement lurking around every corner, if only they open their eyes!


Disclaimer:  I received my copy of this book from the publisher.  I was not asked to write this post, nor was I given any money for doing so, and the review represents my own honest opinion.


  1. Brilliant isn’t it! C absolutely LOVED the bit just after that ‘snap!’ 🙂

    Perfect book capturing the very essence of childhood. Jo is one very talented lady.

  2. What a great book. Just this morning Miss 7 was complaining that we were having a quiet day at home – “Oh that’s so boring”. Now here she is playing barbies, making a cubby behind the couch and sorting out Miss 3’s birthday cards from all her birthdays!! Plenty of exciting things to be found in our house 🙂

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