I Must Have Bobo! by E. Rosenthal
Rosenthal, Eileen. I Must Have Bobo! Illus. Marc Rosenthal. New York: Atheneum Books, 2010. Print.
Perhaps I was expecting something more giddily nostalgia-smitten because I initially found the page layouts of I Must Have Bobo! too sparse. I came to realize the effectiveness of I Must Have Bobo! lies in its light aesthetic touch and refusal to indulge in hectic retro-pastiche. The page design could occasionally benefit from more balance between the negative space of the page and the illustrations’ carefully considered spatial dynamics and measured use of colour but it’s hard to begrudge more attention being drawn to the lovely, warm ivory paper on which the book is printed.
While an adult reader may be tempted, as I was, to lazily conflate complexity with quality, a clean minimalist visual text can assist younger children in accessing a narrative more autonomously. As my children (two and four years of age) quickly familiarized themselves with I Must Have Bobo! the book’s charm and immediacy became apparent.
I Must Have Bobo! restricts its text to dialogue and as children learn the text they can indulge in the gleeful pleasure of repeating the protagonist Willy’s simple but emphatic words. Even a very young child can become engaged in Willy’s endless efforts to keep his beloved stuffed monkey Bobo away from Earl, the family cat who is equally attached to Bobo for his own mysterious reasons. Earl appropriates Bobo at every opportunity and the book centres on Willy’s efforts to retain and relocate Bobo as he migrates around the house with Earl.
An astute and playful book that maintains a respectful adherence to children’s sensibilities and narrative interests, “I Must Have Bobo!” is understatedly, intuitively appropriate for very early to late pre-school readers.
Highly recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Matilda Roche
Matilda spends her days lavishing attention on the University of Alberta’s metadata but children’s illustrated books, literature for young adults and graphic novels also make her heart sing. Her reviews benefit from the critical influence of a four year old daughter and a one year old son – both geniuses. Matilda’s super power is the ability to read comic books aloud.