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Book cover for The Barnabus Project by The Fan Brothers

The Barnabus Project

By The Fan Brothers

Tundra Books / Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers

“A twisty-turny adventure story that travels from the deep underground to the starry skies, featuring a gang of friends, aka ‘Failed Projects,’ who show the power of solidarity and non-conformity. This sweet and surreal ode to sticking together radically breaks from typical storylines to deliver a manifesto for mass escape from any system that demands perfection, sameness and compliance. Stunningly and intricately illustrated, this book pays cinematic attention to pacing and detail. Like Barnabus, the Fan Brothers have broken the mold.”

—Peer assessment committee: Wallace Edwards, Bonnie Farmer, Kyo Maclear


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 is 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.

Photograph of the Fan Brothers


Terry, Eric, and Devin Fan are three brothers who, from a young age, collaborated on several creative projects, including artwork, picture book manuscripts, and screenplays. Recipients of the prestigious Sendak Fellowship and nominees for the Kate Greenaway Medal and the Governor General’s Literary Awards, Terry and Eric wrote and illustrated the critically acclaimed The Night Gardener and Ocean Meet Sky; they also illustrated the bestselling Chris Hadfield-penned picture book The Darkest Dark, Dashka Slater’s The Antlered Ship, and Beth Ferry’s The Scarecrow. Devin Fan is an artist, poet, and youth worker, and The Barnabus Project is his first children’s book. The Fan Brothers grew up in Toronto, where they continue to live and work.

Photo: Michelle Quance

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