Sunday, May 12, 2013


By Linas Alsenas

(Scholastic, 2009)

Nothing like a good laugh. There was a point midway through this book that I started to laugh at a ridiculous situation and the giggle fit took me through to the end. My dog was very concerned as was the couple parked beside me on the ferry. Why be embarrassed? Madness can be glorious.

This book takes on the familiar opposites attractfriendship theme. Bob is a straight and narrow bear. Nothing much happens to him. He confesses on the first page, “I should warn you, I’m very boring.” Risky move as a finicky seven-year-old might toss aside the book and return to his bubble wrap popping techno-gadget. (Okay, maybe that’s just my distraction of choice.)

As Bob falls asleep in a chair while reading a copy of Hello My Name Is Bob—risky, risky—a goofily grinning panda bear appears at the side of the page. Hmm. Perhaps Bob’s book won’t be a total snoozer.

Yes, Jack is a risk-taking panda who seeks adventure in every moment. Hot air balloon rides, rock band gigs, safaris...Jack goes for it. Meanwhile, Bob counts toothpicks and assumes his favorite pose—“Sitting’s great, isn’t it?”

After showcasing their differences on separate pages, author/illustrator Linas Alsenas brings the bears together. They are best friends despite their differences. Naturally, each bear has a different take on their shared experiences.

The page that started my giggle fit? The bears sit in a row boat on the bayou. Bob leans over the side, fascinated by a frog sitting—of course—on a lily pad. He is oblivious to Jack’s antics, using an oar to valiantly fend off a threatening crocodile. As implausible as the scene may be, it continues to amuse me.

Bob and Jack remind us there is a whole range of boys. For every player, there’s one who ponders. Whether you know a Bob or a Jack—or someone in between—Hello My Name Is Bob should captivate any young reader. I might suggest the reader/audience assume Bob’s favorite pastime (yes, sitting) at least for the duration of the reading. Even energized surfers need to take five after hanging ten.

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