Monday, March 7, 2011

I Must Have Bobo!

By Eileen Rosenthal
Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
$14.99, ages 3-6, 40 pages

Bobo the sock money is Willy's and Willy's alone. So why is Earl the cat stealing time with Bobo when Willy isn't looking?

In this darling first collaboration by author Eileen Rosenthal and husband Marc, author-illustrator of Phooey!, a boy and his cat vie over which of them should get Bobo all to himself.

One morning Willy awakes to find that his best stuffed toy Bobo isn't where he should be and in a panic, yells out to anyone who will listen, "I need Bobo!"

Willy opens his eyes so wide that his pupils shrink to dots and he stretches his arms up high, showing just how much he means what he says.

How can Willy possibly get through a day without his trusted toy? After all, Bobo helps Willy do everything: 

When Willy sees a bitey-bug and pokes him with a stick, it's Bobo he clutches in one of his arms. When Willy goes down a slide super fast with his eyes sealed shut, it's Bobo he hugs in front of him.

And when Willy walks past the fence that holds in a big, jowly dog (the one who stands on his hind legs watching Willy and clutches the pickets with his front paws), it's Bobo who holds his hand.

Knowing how much he counts on Bobo to get him through scary times, Willy can hardly bear the thought of losing him. "I must have Bobo!" he yells, this time gripping his head in both hands.

But hold on a second. What's that moving under Willy's bed covers on the next page? Isn't that Earl's gray tail hanging out from the blanket?

"Oh Earl!" Willy scolds, lifting the blanket to find Earl curled up with Bobo and a look of feigned innocence in his eyes.

Every bit as fed up as a boy can be, Willy grabs his Bobo back, then turns away from Earl, and privately suggests to Bobo that they get some breakfast.

A slighted Earl sits down and sneers at Willy as he walks out of the bedroom.

But soon things are getting back to normal and for a headstrong boy like Willy, that means insisting things go his way.

First Willy fusses over what he's being served for breakfast, in this case cereal instead of what "Bobo thought we were having" -- pancakes. Then he tells Bobo that Bobo likes coloring and that his drawing will be blue.

Little does Willy know, Earl has been quietly plotting his next move and as Willy lays on his tummy on the floor, coloring in Bobo's house, Earl starts to pull Bobo away by the tail.

But Earl isn't quite sneaky enough and suddenly Willy jumps up and catches Earl with Bobo's tail in his mouth. "Hey Earl!," Willy yells so loudly that his words cross the fold of two pages.

Willy is now so mad at Earl that he won't let him near the two of them or by the wooden blocks he's poured onto the floor. "Let's build a fort, and Earl can't come in," Willy lashes out.

Lucky for Earl, Willy drapes a blanket over his fort and goes inside without Bobo. This gives Earl a chance to snag Bobo, once again leaving Willy in a panic about where his monkey could be.

"Maybe he's been stolen by pirates!" Willy shouts out, letting his imagination get lose.

But just as quickly Willy wises up and with the turn of a page, he's stooping over Earl and with a scowl on his face, adds, "Or Earl?"

A guilty Earl leans away from him and refuses to look him in the eye, then suddenly takes off out of the room.

"Hey! Wait" Willy cries.

Willy searches high and low for Bobo and Earl, with Earl staying one paw ahead, until finally, even Earl is too worn out to keep up the game of chase.

Peering around the couch, Willy finds Earl curled up asleep on the cushions with Bobo cuddled in his front legs, and in a sweet change of heart, sidles up behind them both and drifts off to sleep.

But now that Earl is waking up, will he be ready to share Bobo too?

This delightful book shows just how hard it is to share when you're little, especially when the one thing you don't want to share is the thing that you count on most for comfort.

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