A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Books figure prominently in the story, including a collection of fairy tales and the dictionary. Some specific kids' titles named: Half Magic, Alice in Wonderland, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. Concept of drought and its effect on terrain and communities. Concept of time capsule. Mention of chess moves. Geography: the distance from Massachusetts to Australia is cleverly explained by listing all the many legs of the trip.
It's good to be seen and heard and understood by others. Fantasy can comfort us. We're watched over and helped and protected. Having fears is a normal part of childhood. Many children comfort themselves by imagining friends. As you get older, it's still OK to enjoy the things you liked when you were younger.
Positive Role Models
Livy has some fears and phobias, but devised an imaginative way to comfort and support herself. Bob and Livy look out for each other and are sensitive to each other's needs. The adults, including the mom and grandmother, are caring. When a child in the community goes missing, everyone turns out to scour the bush for him.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Bob is co-written by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass, a formidable kids' book duo. Stead won the Newbery Medal for her compelling When You Reach Me, and Mass has written numerous novels for the age group, including her bestselling series The Candymakers. Bob is the story of a 10-year-old girl visiting her grandmother in Australia, and features a strange little green creature whom Livy at first struggles to remember from her last visit five years before. There are mysteries afoot, prime among them, who's the little green guy? The story is astute about the fears and challenges kids face growing up, and because it's set in the Australian bush during a severe drought, it also touches on environmental themes.
Is It Any Good?
This emotionally resonant book has smart, snappy narration and a strong fantasy element, but also manages to read like a highly suspenseful, page-turning mystery. Bob is written in the first person, with alternating chapters by two narrators, 10-year-old Livy and Bob, the little green man who's burrowed away in her closet. Both narrators have a breezy, colloquial delivery infused with humor, making them fun to read. For instance, when Livy suggests a bath, Bob resists, saying, "It's been five years. What's another few days?"
But it's the suspense that keeps readers turning the pages. Livy's not sure she remembers Bob from her visit years ago, but memories seep back slowly. Readers are kept wondering: Who is Bob? Is he real? Can other people see him? Why does Livy sometimes forget about him? When she was little, did he save her or did she save him? Other mysteries pop up, too. Why's Livy afraid to stay at sleepovers? And what happened when she last visited her grandmother? At points, readers may fear that something seriously traumatic happened, but no worries, the challenges Livy has weathered end up being the normal bumps of growing up. The book also has imaginative illustrations by Nicholas Gannon.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.