Title: Chez Bob
Author/Illustrator: Bob Shea
Published By: Little, Brown and Company, 2021
I first read a Bob Shea book when I discovered the joy of Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great (reviewed here). It’s still one of my favourites to read aloud to any willing children in my life. The goat’s voice is incredibly fun to do (he’s all melancholy and slightly congested) and the unicorn is a blast (carefree and kind of ditzy).
(Those are just suggestions. You do you, of course.)
Anyway, when I saw Chez Bob at the library, I suspected it might be every bit as wonderful as Unicorn. And it is!
First, the art is fabulous. I love Bob Shea’s style. I once tried to draw some of the pages from Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great and, well, let’s just say that there’s a reason I’m a writer and not an illustrator. Bob Shea is both, though, and frankly I’m jealous.
I mean, filled with admiration.
Chez Bob is about Bob, a lazy alligator (or potentially crocodile?) that just wants to eat some colourful little birds. He decides to simply ask the birds to hop into his mouth, but (unsurprisingly) that doesn’t work. Bob realizes what he has to do: get something to lure the birds to his mouth. Namely: seeds.
So, following this logic, Bob opens a birdseed restaurant on his nose, which is kind of brilliant. (Truly, some of the smartest people I know are creative out of the desire to do less work.) His goal is to get enough money to purchase diamond teeth and a gold hat. A lofty goal, but if that’s what gets you out of bed in the morning, so be it.
Lucky for Bob, the birds flock to the restaurant and eat a lot of seed and spread the word to more and more birds. Bob’s devious plan was working!
Or was it?
What Bob hadn’t really counted on was that the birds would build a town around him.
Or that he’d want to sponsor the basketball team.
Or that he’d join the book club.
Basically, those birds Bob had his stomach set on had become his friends. And you can’t eat your friends, right?
When a thunderstorm threatens his feathery pals, Bob offers them shelter…in his mouth. Now, I figured that at this point, the story could either go the same way as A Hungry Lion (A Dwindling Assortment of Animals), or that perhaps Bob might make good on his friendship and NOT eat the birds.
I don’t want to give away the ending (it’s funny and sweet), but Bob turns out to be a pretty okay guy after all. (Okay, fine. So I totally gave away the ending.)
This book was hilarious and fun and a terrific pun on Bob Shea’s name. (Chez Bob/Bob Shea…get it?!)
I recommend it and give it five crocodiles (or alligators?) out of five.