Sunday, October 29, 2006

2 + "I'm not Bobby"

Last weekend I was shopping at the outlets and went into the Book Warehouse. Much to my dismay, they were having a "store-going-out-of-business sale." I purchased many children's book there for my niece, including the three pictured on this post. The first Jules Feiffer book I bought was I Lost my Bear. I was working at the public library as a children's librarian and did many story times at two library branches. You can always tell when a book has been enjoyed at storytime when the children want to know if they can take the book you just finished reading home. After a while, the Monday storytimers knew to come in
after Friday storytime if they wanted a particular title. Since any book being used for storytime was checked out to me, it was also possible to request the title from another library and they would probably have it before the end of the week. I Lost my Bear was one of those books. It rang true to any child with siblings, or had lost a favorite toy. The illustrations, especially when the young girl found her bear, glowed with emotion. Despite Feiffer's propensity to use the phrase "I'll kill you" in his children's books, something that bothered me more than the kids, this remains a favorite of mine as well. I have my own copy, bought one for my niece, and got one for the library here when I started working.

When Bark, George was published, I bought it for the library and again, my niece. I think it is clever and sweet without being cloying. The illustrations in this offering are large, colorful, and uncomplicated. It's a great read-aloud title because children can tell what's coming next and want you to keep turning the pages to see if they are correct. The ending is classic and I won't spoil it for anyone by giving it away here. I've never read this book that someone doesn't ask for a second read before leaving the group.

Last weekend I found I'm not Bobby at the Book Warehouse. Perusing the shelves for a quick purchase, the Jules Feiffer name in print jumped off the book spine. Bobby, and a recent (to me at least) Herman Wouk title A Hole in Texas, were my purchases for the day. Bobby is hungry, cranky, and ignoring his mother's increasingly insistent calls to come home. Text and illustrations detail Bobby and his imagination. As he moves from lion, to airplane, to monster, and back, he becomes the things he imagines. One of the best sequences in the book is Bobby in space. He takes off in a rocket and we see trepidation and courage. In space his expression is one of utter joy, "This is what I wanted my whole life!" Turn the page and Bobby is alone, hungry, decides, "Space is stupid," and is worried about getting home in time for dinner. Throughout the book, the mother's words are deftly juxtaposed in and around the illustrations and the size of the text shows her increasing annoyance with Bobby, "You're in big trouble now, young man!" We don't see what happens, but we learn you can go home again.

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