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Book Review - ‘My Name is Bob’

It happened in a minute.

You let go of Mom’s hand to look at something. It took just a minute, but when you looked back, all you could see were legs and feet and Mom was gone.

Being lost was the scariest thing but when you asked a grown-up for help, it all turned out fine. Now imagine what would happen if you couldn’t talk, then read the new book “My Name is Bob” by James Bowen & Garry Jenkins, illustrated by Gerald Kelley.

Bob is a cat who lived on the streets, but it wasn’t always that way.

Once upon a time, he was a very loved, very pampered cat who lived with an old lady in a cozy house. He had toys and music and he thought he was “the luckiest little cat in the world.”

But then, the lady got sick and when Bob tried to follow the ambulance, he got terribly lost. Nothing looked familiar and he was scared.

He was also hungry, but when he tried to eat from a garbage can, some bigger cats chased him away. When he tried to find a place to sleep, a man hollered “SCRAM!” A pizza-maker yelled at Bob. Parents didn’t want their children to pet him or play with him because Bob looked dirty. Nobody wanted to be friends with him.

Bob was sad. But with winter coming, he knew he had to do his best to stay warm.

Soon, it was spring and Bob was still a street cat. One day, though, he heard music — and since he’d always loved music, he followed his ears and saw a man with a guitar. The man looked just as sad as Bob felt. Bob knew the man needed a friend, so he followed the man home and waited.

But before he could learn anything more, Bob was hurt. He was too hurt, in fact, to move much, and so he sat against a building, hoping that the man might be kind and helpful. Did the “luckiest little cat in the world” finally run out of luck?

Of course, you know the answer. And once you’ve found this book, you’ll know that good fortune extends to the kid who has “My Name is Bob.”

Authors James Bowen and Garry Jenkins take the adult version of their bestseller about a “street cat” who adopts a human, and make it accessible to the smallest cat lovers, which can be a mixed bag. The theme in this younger version might, at first, make the story a bit scary for sensitive children — getting lost, after all, is terrifying. Be aware of this, but don’t let it stop you from pushing forward with a read-aloud: the sympathetic, heart-tugging illustrations by Gerald Kelley and the wonderful happy ending will ultimately win over even the most fearful kids.

Meant for 3- to 6-year-old readers, I think slightly older children may enjoy this book once or twice. If they’re cat lovers, especially, “My Name is Bob” is a book they’ll get lost in.

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“My Name is Bob” by James Bowen & Garry Jenkins, illustrated by Gerald Kelley

c.2014, Barron’s $16.99 / $19.50 Canada 32 pages

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