BOB Reviews

2018 Booklist Youth Editors’ Choice
New York City Public Library Notable 100 Best Books for Kids
Chicago Tribute Best Children’s Book of the Year

“Pure enchantment”
The New York Times

The Wall Street Journal

“This is a welcome addition to the middle-grade canon and will likely become a classic. Bob deserves readership beyond middle grade.”
San Francisco Book Review

“With delicious touches of humor, this wonderful story unfolds in a perfect and heartwarming way.”
Through the Looking Glass

“A delightfully whimsical tale that begs to be read with a friend. Don’t miss Bob.”
Christian Science Monitor

“Perfect for reading aloud or independent reading, this comfortably old-fashioned tale refreshes age-old themes of belonging, friendship, family and the power of story.”
San Francisco Chronicle

In Bob (Feiwel and Friends, Ages 8 to 12) Wendy Mass (“The Candymakers” series) and Rebecca Stead (“When You Reach Me”) team up to tell an endearing story about the relationship between a small greenish creature in a chicken suit and the young girl who befriends him. Bob and Livy met five years before the novel opens, when Livy was visiting family in Australia. Now 11, Livy has reluctantly returned to the Down Under, and her memories of Bob begin slowly to return, and their kinship blossoms. Bob and Livy take turns narrating; reflective Livy and curious, occasionally cranky Bob emerge as distinct individuals in a friendship believably shot through with humor, hurt feelings and kindness. Armed only with a black chess piece and an old book of fairy tales, the two try to determine Bob’s origins and how he can return home. Meanwhile, their immediate locale withers in the grip of a long-term drought, and Livy’s grandmother may lose her farm. The authors avoid the usual fantasy tropes — epic quests, winged fairies, castles — to create a quirky, luminous tale grounded in connection with the natural world. In exploring a diminishing resource and earth-centered magic, this charming, compact book — with illustrations by Nicholas Gannon — manages to be both timely and unique.
The Washington Post

Ten-year-old Livy, who lives in Massachusetts, hasn’t visited her Gran Nicholas’s house in Australia for five years. When she returns for a visit, Livy is struck by the feeling that something very important is waiting for her. Sure enough, a peek inside her closet reveals “a small zombie wearing a chicken suit,” perched atop a dictionary. “You’re back. Took you long enough,” the creature says to the girl. Once upon a time, it seems, five-year-old Livy discovered this strange being, who goes by the comically understated name of Bob, and the two formed a secret bond. Picking up where they left off, Livy keeps Bob hidden while they hunt for clues about what he is, where he came from, and how to get him home. Authors Mass (the Willow Falls series) and Stead (Goodbye Stranger) team up for this irresistible tale of magic, mystery, and friendship that poses timeless questions about identity and belonging. Ultimately, the answers Livy and Bob seek are waiting in the pages of a cherished book—a tribute to the power of storytelling, which draws readers into the imaginative investigation.
Publishers Weekly, starred review

Five years ago, Livy left her friend Bob, who she describes as a zombielike creature, in the closet of her grandmother’s house in Australia without saying goodbye. Bob has loyally awaited Livy’s return, dressed in the chicken suit she made to disguise him, and hopeful about the promise she made to help him find his way home, wherever that may be. As Livy gradually eases back into the rekindled friendship, vague memories return to her that could lead to the discovery of Bob’s home. Livy’s separation anxiety about her mother’s upcoming trip with friends and the drought in her grandmother’s town round out the story for a full plot line. Mass and Stead’s brilliant collaboration has produced a beautiful tale of friendship, love, and the magic of childhood. Livy and Bob’s points of view alternate chapters, and each character’s personality is wonderfully realized with subtle nuances of emotion and humor. A perfectly paced plot, supported by secondary characters to whom readers will relate and luminous artwork by Gannon, fill out a story that readers will eagerly embrace. VERDICT A must-have for libraries serving middle grade readers, this novel delights.
—Amy ­McInerney, Falmouth Elementary School, ME, School Library Journalstarred review

Traveling to her grandmother’s drought-stricken, rural Australian community after an absence of five years, Livy remembers little about her previous visit. But when she opens her bedroom’s closet door, Bob—a short, skinny, green creature in a bedraggled chicken suit—looks up at her and says, “You’re back. Took you long enough.” They rebuild their friendship while Livy helps Bob figure out what kind of creature he is (not a zombie, as five-year-old Livy had supposed) and how he can find his way home. She has questions: Why don’t adults seem to notice Bob? Why does she forget him when they’re apart? Clearly magic plays a part in the story and its climax, bringing reunions, farewells, and rain, rain, rain. The very readable first-person narration alternates between Livy’s voice and Bob’s, and seen within well-realized settings, these endearing characters and their friendship drive the novel. Stead, whose When You Reach Me (2009) won the Newbery Medal, and Mass, author of the beloved Willow Falls series, combine their considerable talents to create an unusual fantasy with simplicity, immediacy, and wit. Illustrations (not seen) will appear throughout the finished volume.
Carolyn Phelan, Booklist, starred review

Writing superstars Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead have long excelled at crafting insightful, emotionally rich stories for young readers. Their first collaboration—Bob, a novel about (what else?) a most unusual friendship—is something wonderful indeed.

For the first time in five years, Livy is traveling from Massachusetts to Australia to visit her grandmother. The last time she visited, she was only 5 years old, so there are certain details she doesn’t recall—like the small green creature living in the spare room’s closet. His name is Bob, and he’s been waiting very patiently for Livy’s return, spending his days building (and rebuilding) a Lego pirate ship and reading the dictionary. No one else can really see Bob (most people are convinced he’s a strange sort of chicken), and Livy’s memories of their prior time together are hazy at best, but new clues—and a new crisis—send the two friends in search of answers. Perhaps they saved one another once, and perhaps they can do so again.

Chapters alternate between Bob’s and Livy’s points of view, offering just the right blend of mystery and cozy magic in a rewarding story about how friendships—and people—evolve over time. Bob and Livy come to appreciate and love one another now while also feeling bittersweet about who they were then—and their fairy tale-like story proves that when friends get together, magical things can happen.

Winner of:

Michigan Great Lakes Great Books Award
Mythopoeic Society Book Award
Golden Cowbell Book Award, Switzerland
The Cartwheel Book Award for Best Non-human Character
The Nerdy Bookclub award

Nominated for the:

New Jersey’s Garden State Teen Book Award
Maine Student Book Award
Nebraska Golden Sower
Maryland Black Eyed Susan
Florida’s Sunshine State Young Readers Award
Kentucky Bluegrass Award
Rhode Island Children’s Book Award
Vermont’s Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award
Oklahoma’s Sequoyah Book Award
Washington State’s Sasquatch Book Award
Virginia Readers Choice Award
Minnesota’s Maud Harte Lovelace Book Award
Indiana Young Hoosiers Book Award
Illinois Bluestem Reader’s Choice Award
Great Texas Mosquito List Student Choice Award