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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Bob, written by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead, with illustrations by Nicholas Gannon. Feiwel and Friends, Macmillan. Raincoast. 2018. $22.50 ages 8 and up

"I had lots of time to think in the closet, of course. It's like I was alone, but I wasn't alone at the same time. I made a home for myself inside my head and I decorated it with all the things I learned and thought about and made with my Legos. I got in touch with my inner Bobness! I know Livy feels awful about leaving me for all those years, but after that admittedly rocky adjustment ... "

It's been five years since Livy has been back to Australia to visit her grandmother. Now, she is ten. When she gets there, she has an intuition that something important is in the house. As she settles in to the guest bedroom, she opens the closet door and remembers what it is she forgot.

It's Bob! Bob is “a small zombie wearing a chicken suit ...”. He is perched atop a large dictionary where, he is quick to tell her, he has been since Livy left him there five years ago when she returned home to Massachusetts. At the time, she promised to return and help him find his way home. Neither knew then where that might be. Bob is not impressed with how long it has taken for her to return.

As the become reacquainted, Livy realizes just how special Bob is, and why she liked him so much from the beginning. He is loyal, kind, smart, and obviously, very patient. Memories from that  first trip return, and a sense that a memory triggered might be the answer they need to send him home.

Livy is worrying about missing her mother who will soon be off to visit old friends, leaving her with Gran Nichols. Gran is worrying about the drought that is threatening her town. Bob, though endlessly patient and still dressed in his chicken disguise, would really like to find his home and family. Will they be able to solve the mystery? Will Bob finally go home? We can only hope.

What a beautifully told this collaboration this is! That should come as no surprise given the wealth of talent for storytelling the two share. In alternating voices, they create a story of love, friendship and the beauty of a child's belief in magic. Each character is fully developed, and memorable.

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