Written by Eileen Rosenthal, Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011
When Willy woke up, there was trouble.
The plot in a nutshell: A boy searches (repeatedly) for his stuffed monkey
Willy is distraught when he discovers his stuffed monkey, Bobo, is missing, especially because Bobo gives him courage throughout the day. He spies a tail sticking out from under the sheets and finds the family’s cat, Earl, snuggled up with Bobo. Willy takes Bobo to breakfast and then settles down for some coloring. When he looks up, Earl is dragging Bobo away. Willy builds a fort to keep Earl away, but after building it, realizes that Bobo is gone again. He looks everywhere and then finds Earl with Bobo, sleeping on a chair. Willy cuddles up with them for a nap and the book ends with Earl taking Bobo away again.
This book, the first picture book from author Eileen Rosenthal, was a featured book at my library and I just couldn’t walk away from a title like that. The opening line above is the only line of narration. Everything else after that is spoken by Willy, as he looks repeatedly for Bobo and talk about why Bobo is so important. Ms. Rosenthal captures the changeable nature of toddlers, with Willy going back and forth from happy to angry, as Bobo comes and goes. I think most kids (and their parents) will relate to Willy in this story.
Ms. Rosenthal collaborated with her husband, Marc, for her first book. The pencil and digitally colored artwork is presented with no real background on cream colored paper, which helps the characters pop from the pages. I love the contrast between Willy’s over-expression, Bobo’s non-expression and Earl’s deliberate passivity. He knows that Willy doesn’t want him to take Bobo and he (in the grand tradition of cats) doesn’t care. It makes for a fun power struggle and I imagine kids will enjoy finding Earl (sometimes with Bobo) in the picture behind Willy. The Rosenthals have published two more books about these characters.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that when you know you’re around those who can’t be trusted, a little extra caution is needed to protect your extra special valuables.