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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Bob The Artist, written and illustrated by Marion Denchars. Laurence King, Chronicle. Raincoast, 2016. $21.95 ages 5 and up

His next plan was simple.
"I'll dress up to hide my legs.
But he felt ridiculous.
Bob went for a long walk.

Oh, what a gorgeous book this is ... and in every way! It is lovely to hold; it is brilliantly designed; it has superb illustrations that put the focus squarely on Bob himself (and the many animals who feel they have the right to have a say about the way he looks); and, it has a story that deserves to be heard again and again.

You may not even pay any attention to that story on the first go-round. The artwork is worthy of your full and undivided attention. Its bold design will captivate every young listener. When you read it the next time they will take note of the way Bob is treated by others, all of them fully focused on the shape of his legs. Bob has no idea that he should be embarrassed by them. He is quite content to start out on his walk with nothing on his mind but the beauty of the day.

Only when the 'nasties' begin making disparaging remarks about their shape, their size and the way they make him walk does he begin to pay attention. Suddenly, he is not so content with those legs and decides that he must take steps to change the way they look. As sad as can be, he does his best to make his legs comply with what he thinks others want. When nothing works, Bob decides to take a walk. It leads him to an art gallery ...  his life is forever changed.

The mostly black and white of previous pages changes dramatically to expanses of brilliant color. You will recognize the styles of art that the author uses, while young listeners may not. No matter! They will be impressed with the bold bursts and the happiness the art brings to Bob. He soon forgets all the meanness that has been heaped upon him in his excitement over his many new discoveries. Bravo, Bob! Taking the story one step further, Bob uses the art styles to paint his beak, and learns that being different can be a truly wonderful thing. I love it, and I love Bob!

I will recommend it to one and all ... and so, to you!  

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