Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sailing Away

Comfort can be found and felt in the smallest of things.  The smell of bayberry candles reminds me of my Dad's smile and laughter; it was his favorite scent. The taste of hot chocolate reminds me of all those mornings counting the bubbles on top of a fresh hot mug; each representing a monetary amount.  The sight of Xena lying at my feet as I write and read reminds me of the countless hours we've spent walking and running.

Children find solace in a favorite blanket, stuffed animal, story or in the company of those who love them; as we all do.  In this third tale, Willy continues to find companionship with Bobo, his sock monkey.  Earl, the family cat, is never far behind, ready to steal Bobo away.  The entertaining trio is off on another adventure in Bobo The Sailor Man! (Atheneum Books For Young Readers) written by Eileen Rosenthal with illustrations by Marc Rosenthal.

This morning Willy woke up with a plan.

Not only is Willy taking Bobo exploring but he has BIG ideas.  The exuberance of Willy is contagious; knowing they might uncover dinosaur bones or, as improbable as it might be, a volcano.  With Willy and company a patch of mushrooms is not just a patch of mushrooms; they must be poisonous.

Each new item, acorns, a caterpillar, a stick, and a forgotten comb, are discovered treasures.  Their place in the world is elevated by Willy's imagination.  Cloud gazing reveals a menagerie of creatures past and present.

An abandoned pail by a nearby river, sends the ever present and most willing, Bobo on an unexpected voyage.  Willy can't run fast enough and the rocks are far too slippery to get Bobo back.  With a stern command to Earl to watch over Bobo, (as if he is not always doing so anyway), Willy runs off to get help.

What we see and Willy fails to see, will have readers giggling to their hearts' content.  Who's the rescuer and rescued?  Water trips, sailor hats and afternoon naps tell the tale.  And Earl...let's say he has the last laugh...again.

In each story Eileen Rosenthal, has created characters we want for friends.  The persistence and determination of Earl are to be admired.  No one would ever have a bad day with Willy's zest for life, his optimism, and his willingness to find joy at every opportunity.  Told entirely in Willy's conversations and thoughts, except for the first sentence, we can easily place ourselves in the middle of the action.

Bright yellow on the matching jacket and cover immediately attracts the viewer to the latest installment in the adventures of Willy, Bobo and Earl.  The contrasting vibrant red text, pail and boots hint at events to come.  As in the two previous titles, the back features Willy, clad in his pajamas, intent on his next undertaking, holding Bobo as he and Earl gaze out a window.

Plain pale yellow covers the opening and closing endpapers, with one exception.  In the lower right-hand corner of the beginning sits a tiny newspaper sailor hat.  Like the other two titles, the verso information takes on a specific shape.  This time it forms a pail.  

Drawn in pencil and colored digitally, Marc Rosenthal infuses each illustration with lively emotion.  For the most part chocolate brown lines define the settings with color filling in the characters and those elements specific to the narrative.  Text size accentuates the emotions flowing around several small illustrations on a page, single page pictures or the expressive double page spreads.  I think my favorite two pages are a series of six small pictures of Bobo's rescue.  I can't look at them without smiling.

The wife and husband team of Eileen Rosenthal and Marc Rosenthal have created another lighthearted winner in Bobo The Sailor Man!  Whether shared one-on-one or in a group setting, readers will fall in love all over again with these characters.  I would even venture to say, there might be more requests for lovable sock monkeys this Christmas season.  Bobo dressed in his bumblebee black and yellow is hard to resist.

If you want to discover more about the author and illustrator please follow the link embedded in their names to access their official websites.  Here is a link to the Simon & Schuster website for a look at more pages from the title.  It includes four activity pages to extend the fun of Willy and his friends. Here are links to my reviews of I Must Have Bobo! and I'll Save You Bobo!  For more sock monkey fun I would pair this with the series by author Cece Bell and Emily Gravett's book, Monkey and Me.

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