Written and Illustrated by Geneviève Côté
Tundra Books, 2014
Bob has a ghost. He really wanted a dog.
The plot in a nutshell: A bored ghost eats way too much.
Bob gets the ghost for his birthday and he names it Fluffy. Fluffy doesn’t fetch or sit or come when he’s called, but he’s very good at hide-and-seek. When he gets bored, Fluffy starts eating and ghosts eat anything. He eats books, houseplants and furniture until Bob starts noticing that things have disappeared. Fluffy tries to act innocent, but Bob notices that he’s gotten bigger. Fluffy keeps on eating until the house is practically empty, then he sneaks up on Bob and swallows him, too. Inside the ghost, Bob is surprised to find all of his things. He tries to scold Fluffy, but gets no response, so he sits down in his armchair and reads a book about ghosts. The book makes him think about how special ghosts are and how cool it is to have one. Fluffy’s stomach starts to ache and he starts to miss Bob, so he opens his mouth wide and Bob jumps out. The two smile at each other and Fluffy starts to laugh so hard that all of Bob’s things fly out of his mouth. From that point on, they get along perfectly and have lots of fun together.
In this book, author/illustrator Geneviève Côté gives us a new and slightly odd spin on the responsibility of pet ownership. I like the basic premise of the book, but had trouble connecting to the characters and I think it’s because they weren’t particularly likeable. It could also have been that we just don’t get to know them well enough to like them. Bob seems, to me, to just be petulant about not getting the pet he wanted and his response is to pretty much ignore Fluffy, which seems hurtful and selfish. Even when he changes his mind, it is almost more of an act of self-preservation (considering that he does so after having been eaten by Fluffy) than a real change of heart. The message here is a good one, though, about how relationships can become destructive when both people aren’t invested in taking care of them. I just wish it had been expressed a little more positively.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that everyone wants to feel appreciated in the lives of their friends.