The Barnabus Project

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.

Buy this Book on

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 5 Oct 2021 | Archive Date 14 Dec 2021

Talking about this book? Use #TheBarnabusProject #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


In a world built for Perfect Pets, Barnabus is a Failed Project, half mouse, half elephant, kept out of sight until his dreams of freedom lead him and his misfit friends on a perilous adventure. A stunning picture book from international bestsellers The Fan Brothers, joined by their brother Devin Fan.

Deep underground beneath Perfect Pets, where children can buy genetically engineered "perfect" creatures, there is a secret lab. Barnabus and his friends live in this lab, but none of them are perfect. They are all Failed Projects. Barnabus has never been outside his tiny bell jar, yet he dreams of one day seeing the world above ground that his pal Pip the cockroach has told him about: a world with green hills and trees, and buildings that reach all the way to the sky, lit with their own stars.
But Barnabus may have to reach the outside world sooner than he thought, because the Green Rubber Suits are about to recycle all Failed Projects . . . and Barnabus doesn't want to be made into a fluffier pet with bigger eyes. He just wants to be himself. So he decides it's time for he and the others to escape. With his little trunk and a lot of cooperation and courage, Barnabus sets out to find freedom – and a place where he and his friends can finally be accepted for who they are.
This suspenseful, poignant and magical story about following your dreams and finding where you truly belong will draw readers into a surreal, lushly detailed world in which perfection really means being true to yourself and your friends.
'A stately, cathartic morality tale about freeing oneself from the tyranny of wanting to be perfect.' —The Financial Times
'ingeniously imaginative' — School Library Journal 'A heartfelt, timely allegory celebrating diversity, bravery, and solidarity.'— Kirkus

In a world built for Perfect Pets, Barnabus is a Failed Project, half mouse, half elephant, kept out of sight until his dreams of freedom lead him and his misfit friends on a perilous adventure. A...

Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9780711249455
PRICE £7.99 (GBP)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (PDF)
Download (PDF)

Average rating from 16 members

Featured Reviews

Beautiful little book that I find really charming and I think most children would as well! I recommend it!

Was this review helpful?

This book is absolutely beautiful. I remember when it came out in hardback and I could not take my eyes off of it. It is a lovely simple story filled with the weird and wonderful however I fell in love very quickly with barnabus. I cannot wait to read more from these authors/illustrator

Was this review helpful?

This has to be one of the best illustrated story books this year. The Barnabus Project tells the story of a group pets who are classified as misfits and held in jars below a pet shop. The Fan brothers have produced a book that will appeal to all children and the young at heart adults who open their minds to a beautiful and poignant story.The illustrations capture every emotion of the “ misfits” and beautifully creates the underworld in which they are captured. Showing the power of unity in numbers to fight against the system and control, this is a winning book and will melt your heart.
Highly rated

Was this review helpful?

A really, really rich fantasy world is the highlight of this dramatic picture book for the young. Flawless art shows us a world of animals, led by Barnabus, a kind of experimental pet that is half elephant and half mouse, and all failure, according to the nasty human types who invented them all. With dreams of the outside world embedded in his mind by a friendly cockroach, Barnabus must try and save the critters, before they get redrafted into something else. And yes, I am using a word like redrafted, because (a) I know no better, and (b) you do have to hedge around the fact this is a dark world, of bizarre and monstrous critters and Bad Science. Still, Barnabus is dead cute, the art gives a lovely sheen to everything and smooths over the dark shadows most age-appropriately, and the story of escape, finding yourself and not needing someone else's idea of perfection comes across most brilliantly – to the extent you could easily get young readers lead in an "I'm Barnabus!" chant with no idea about the film which they'd be misquoting. A standout title, and as close to five stars as makes no difference.

Was this review helpful?

I really loved this story! Such a fun read!

Barnabas is faulty but curious project. He and his friends escape the laboratory and lives happy life outside.

The only thing I would've changed, is the morale of the story. For example children found Barnabas and his friends and took them home instead of "Perfect friends".

Was this review helpful?

This was actually amazing and one of my favorite children books this year.
First of all, I loved the art style, it has a vintage vibe that reminded me of the picture books I had when I was a child. It is very atmospheric, with a bit of weirdness, poetic imagery and cute characters. The illustrations are detailed and make the reader want to stop on each page to look at what is going on; I really loved analyzing the situations and locations that were depicted.
It's also one of those books that can be enjoyed by young readers but also carry deeper messages that'll speak to adults. It is about the idea of "perfection" and the expectations that are put on people; about how there is one way to be and if you are imperfect, you're deemed unfit. This little book is about misfits and people who are a bit different, and how these characters are kept hidden underground. The main character learns to love himself the way he is, despite being shown the possibility of becoming "perfect". There's also a very cute found family of characters who love and help each other and never give up on their friends, which was so heartwarming!
I think this story will speak to queer readers, as well as anyone who feels like they have to hide parts of themselves, or like they've been hidden by other people.
If you're looking for a story about friendship and a way to celebrate your own weirdness, this is such a nice pick!

Was this review helpful?

This was so much fun! I loved the story; it was exciting enough with valuable lessons. I adored the illustrations and the colour palette. I'm sure Barnabus would be a popular choice among children.

Was this review helpful?

Barnabus is a super-cute mix of elephant and mouse, but unfortunately he is classified as a failed project. The book is actually quite harrowing and I was scared for poor Barnabus and what it would mean for him to be recycled.
Beautiful illustrations and a lovely story though it just finished and there didn't seem to be a real ending.

Was this review helpful?

This is such a beautiful picture book celebrating being different and the power of acceptance.

Barnabus is a 'failed project', living in the basement of the Perfect Pet shop with lots of other creatures that have been deemed 'not perfect'. Together, they realise what is going on and hatch a plan to escape.

The illustrations were so beautiful and the story so powerful - a must-have on any school bookshelf!

Was this review helpful?

A beautifully illustrated book with an important story. The uncomplicated story has potential to be explored at multiple layers, and the simple, yet detailed illustrations make this book suitable for a huge age range. I read and reread this, finding different aspects to explore each time. A truly beautiful book.

Was this review helpful?

I read this with my 9 year old though it could be read by any age from about 3 or 4 onwards. The story was wonderful and engaging, with a great message and the illustrations are gorgeous and funny. I'd happily buy this as a present for a friend as it is so special. Will look out for books from these authors as they are amazing!

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: