Quote of the Month

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

Friday, January 13, 2017

In Sickness And...

Never is good health so appreciated as when you suddenly find yourself with the king of colds.  You're hotter than hot one minute and shaking with the chills the next minute.  Every part of your body aches.  You can't breathe but your nose is constantly running (in a race where you are the loser).  You begin coughing but the sound closely resembles a barking seal. You are so miserable you can't even enjoy the fact you get a day (or two or more) off from your normal activities.

At times like this there is only one person in the world you want, especially if you are a younger gal or guy.  Bob, Not Bob! (To be read as though you have the worst cold ever:)(Disney Hyperion, February 14, 2017) written by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick with illustrations by Matthew Cordell explains with great insight and huge doses of humor exactly who this is. It is not your canine companion.  It is not your beloved stuffed animal.

Little Louie wasn't all that little.  It wasn't like he needed his mom every minute of the day.

When he started sneezing and wheezing, he did need his mom.  He needed her a lot.  You could almost say he needed her constantly.

When his cold was in high gear, nothing satisfied him more than the presence of his mom but his nose was so stuffed when he yelled Mom it sounded like Bob.  It just so happened that Louie had a larger than life dog named Bob.  Guess who came running ready to romp?  Bob the dog.

Louie, besides being sicker than sick, kept on saying

I wan by

Needless to say, Bob the dog was a bit confused.  Louie's mom with the wisdom bestowed on mom's everywhere knew exactly who he wanted and did come to his room but she had other obligations too.

Day two was even worse.  Louie's words came out weird.  His little sister Tessa was as mystified as Bob the dog.  Feeling more wretched by the minute Louie was going a little bit nuts.  His mom was too.  And Bob the dog keep running to Louie.

So Mom did the only left to do.  Louie sighed.  Mom was glad he was glad.  So was Bob the dog.

As you read this story you will constantly be thinking about how much fun Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick had working together to create the words for the unseen narrator and the dialogue of little Louie.  They create the quintessential sick child situation right down to the tiniest details.  As they are describing exactly how sick Louie is, each sentence builds on the previous one to create a type of cadence.

When Bob the dog enters the scene each time he is not only running but slobbering.  When they insert the word cuckoo into the story, it becomes so kid-perfect you feel like (and probably will) laugh out loud.  All these clever pieces place readers exactly where they need to be for the resolutions.  Yes, there are two.  Here is another sample passage.

So he just lay there getting hot and sweaty,
which sounded like "Hotten Smetty."
"Who's Hotten Smetty?" asked his sister. ...

The layout and design on the matching dust jacket and book case are two trios superbly aligned, the title text over Mom, Louie and Bob the dog.  Each of them, Mom, Louie and Bob the dog, is wearing an expression indicative of their personalities in this story; happy to help, miserably sick and confused...and slobbery.  The title text on the jacket is varnished.  To the left, on the back, the green from the front becomes the canvas.  Within a loosely framed circle is Bob's ball, a box of tissues and the stuffed teddy bear.

On the opening endpapers a giant BOB is placed slightly to the right off center.  Mom is standing tall and smiling with Louie crying and clinging to her leg.  From the left Bob is standing at attention, ball in mouth, looking at them.  This BOB has a heart shape in the center of the O.  This is how Matthew Cordell distinguishes between Mom (Bob) and Bob the dog.  Readers will notice a difference on the closing endpapers as Louie seems to be back to one healthy little guy.  On the title page the arrangement shifts with Mom, Louie and Bob the dog standing on top of the text.  They are looking right at us.

In this title Cordell uses white space as an element.  He positions his characters in the image to convey emotional moods and the passage of time; more in the center, at the bottom or in several spots on one page.  The spoken text and sounds play an important role too, heightening those emotional moments.  The facial expressions on the characters' faces, including Bob the dog, are absolutely spot-on and hilarious.  (They're wonderfully loving too.)

One of my favorite of many illustrations is when Louie is crying out

I just wan by BOB!

again.  His mom is carrying a laundry basket as he wraps both arms around her legs.  A box of tissues and used tissues are scattered on the floor.  With her free hand Mom is covering her eyes.  If she were speaking you know exactly what she would be saying.  Her patience is hanging on by a very thin thread.

Every person on the planet that has had a cold can easily identify with Louie.  Every mom or caregiver can place themselves in Louie's mom's shoes.  If dogs could talk, they would tell us Bob the dog is doing the best he can under the circumstances.  This is what makes Bob, Not Bob! written by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick with illustrations by Matthew Cordell a rib-tickling riot of fun.  This is real aloud gold!  Make sure you have a copy for your professional and personal bookshelves.

To find out more about Liz Garton Scanlon, Audrey Vernick and Matthew Cordell please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites.  Take a tour of Liz Garton Scanlon's studio at Andrea Skyberg's website. She also invites Matthew Cordell to visit her site and gives us a tour of his studio.  Matthew Cordell stops by author, reviewer and blogger Julie Danielson's blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, sharing previous projects, this title and some not released yet.  Author James Preller interviews Audrey Vernick on his site in an author to author conversation.

UPDATE:   I know you are going to enjoy this article at Tara Lazar's site, Writing For Kids (While Raising Them).  Audrey and Liz chat about this title and reveal the book trailer.

UPDATE:  Liz, Audrey and Matthew visit All The Wonders, Episode 333 to chat about this title with teacher librarian Matthew Winner.


  1. I have had this on request for soooo long! It looks so funny, and I absolutely adore all of Matthew Cordell's art.

    1. This book is funnier than funny Maria. I love reading it out loud. These two make a great team.