Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

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Ill. by Nicholas Gannon. Text Publishing, 2018. ISBN 9781925603590
(Age: 8-12) Highly recommended. Themes: Fantasy. Imagination. Friendship. Droughts. Country life. Livy has just returned to Australia to see her grandmother after a five years absence. There are many things that she can't remember and one of them is the strange little creature, dressed in a chicken suit, who is living in the cupboard in her room. His name is Bob and he tells Livy that she promised that she would help him find his home. He has been waiting for a long time for this to happen and together they begin to unravel the mystery of where Bob belongs.
This a timeless and very warm story of an unlikely friendship, set against the background of Livy's grandmother's residence and the surrounding area that is stricken by a terrible drought. Told in the voices of Livy and Bob in alternating chapters, the pair renew their friendship, reliving some of the happy moments from the past, as they try and work out where Bob has come from.
Mass and Stead both write beautifully and the reader is captivated with the depth of the friendship and the often funny descriptions of Bob dressed in his chicken suit. The back story of the drought, the letter that Gran gets from the bank and the pervading dryness of the country side, is subtly handled by the authors, and Livy's gradually growth, her friendship with a local girl and her meeting with Danny the little boy from next door all add to a magical and engrossing story. The artwork by Nicholas Gannon adds to the appeal of the book and although initially dark, a perusal of the front cover will reward the inquiring mind.
I could imagine this being read aloud to a class as well as becoming a firm favourite of children who enjoy reading about the power of the imagination, the strength of love and enduring friendship. It is a must for any library.
Pat Pledger