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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nobody, written by Liz Rosenberg and illustrated by Julie Downing. Roaring Brook, H B Fenn. 2010. $19.99 ages 3 and up

"Nobody made ridiculous suggestions. Chocolate meatloaf! Peanut butter and turnip soup! Spaghetti and applesauce dumplings!"

Don't you wish you had a 'nobody'? When Erin was three, and for a very short time, she had an imaginary friend. I wish I could remember her name. She was a daily guest for meals, and play time. We were admonished if we closed the kitchen door as the friend was often on the other side. I don't ever remember Erin blaming her friend for shared trouble; but, I rarely remember Erin being in trouble! So, she came and went and we were not sure why Erin found comfort in her presence, but she did.

Often imaginary friends take the rap for misbehavior. In this fun-filled story about such a friendship, Nobody is the culprit. The minute George opens his eyes he knows that Nobody is awake and moving. The parents are not. Neither is the dog. Nobody won't be tethered or taken lightly. He encourages fun and frolic in the kitchen and George's inner cook is released. They spin about the kitchen creating one gourmet delight after the other. Since they have to wait for parental supervision before cooking anything, they fill. their time with new games.

The parents' immediate reaction is dismay and confusion. Luckily they take a breath and give hugs and kisses. Then, while Dad cleans up, Mom asks for help with Sunday pancakes. With Mom's attention focused on her toddler son, Nobody diminishes. As they work, George realizes that the fun he had earlier wouldn't have been such if Nobody hadn't been there. Soon, Nobody is back in the picture and helping with the feast.

"And Nobody ate more than George."

It's been a long time since I met one but I would guess that imaginary friends are still there, assuaging fears and being a friend when one is needed. Liz Rosenberg handles the events with charm and daring. Julie Downing creates a warm and funny Nobody in black and white and fills the rest of her illustrations with bold color, frenetic energy and a sense of calm when the parents descend. It's so much fun!

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