7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #204: Featuring Marc Rosenthal

h1 January 30th, 2011 by jules

Well, I’ve finally finished posting about 2010 titles, for the most part. I might sneak in an interview here or there some time soon with folks who published picture books in 2010, but it’s time to look at what’s being released this year. And I’m happy to show some spreads this morning from a brand-new 2011 title that I find so winning on every possible level, not to mention a book that made me and my wee girls laugh so hard we nearly split our collective pants. Okay, that simply doesn’t sound right, but I’m typing this post late-ish on Friday night, so forgive the nonsense that stems from my fatigue. “Collective pants” is kinda funny to think about, though. Admit it.

I Must Have Bobo!, written by Eileen Rosenthal (her picture book debut) and illustrated by Marc Rosenthal (Atheneum, January 2011), is the story of a straight up showdown between one young boy, Willy, and the family cat, the dilemma being that the object of their affection is one beloved sock monkey, named Bobo. Bobo, however, can only be with one creature at a time. Uh-oh. (If I could play the main theme song from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly right now, I would.)

On the very first spread, we’re introduced to the dilemma right off the bat, no foolin’ around: “When Willy woke up, there was trouble. Oh no! Where’s Bobo?” Poor child is looking under his bed; alas, no sock monkey. After he declares with great urgency that he NEEDS Bobo, the author and illustrator proceed to show us why on the three subsequent pages. Bobo only helps this child with EVERYthing: his fear of bugs, his fear of steep slides, “that big dog” ’round the corner…you get the idea. He simply must have Bobo.



(Click each image to see the entire spread from which it comes.)

(Don’t you love how there are three thought bubbles above his head, and the first thought in his mind—the one about bitey bugs—is encapsulated in the first bubble? The other two, of course, are enclosed in the same white circles. I love that little detail.)

This, mind you, is all laid out with very funny and quite subtle details and expression. Marc Rosenthal nails the emotions of a young child. It’s remarkable how much fear or apprehension he can convey in Willy, simply with the lines that constitute his eyebrows. The Rosenthals also put to use a lot of understatement, which is just flat-out funny. (“Do you think he sees us?” Willy asks Bobo, as they walk past “that big dog.” The dog, you see, has his head hanging over a fence and is staring straight at the duo.)

So, back to poor Willy: What we come to understand is that his cat, Earl (and HOW MUCH DO I LOVE THAT THE CAT IS NAMED EARL), is also fond of Bobo and likes to slip him quietly out of the room. Willy finds Earl (whom the Kirkus review describes as having “a marvelously blank, inscrutably entitled cat face,” which is just PERFECTLY true) hiding under the covers, embracing Bobo. If you’re having trouble imagining how very funny this is, go get a copy immediately and read it with a young child. It’s flippin’ hysterical is what it is, particularly for those young children, who like to get away with as. much. as. they. can. so very, very often.


(Click to enlarge spread.)

In one particularly funny spread (not shown here), when Willy carts Bobo off, Earl sits behind him, shooting him a look of pure contempt, as only a feline can. You can easily imagine the wheels turning in his brain, planning his revenge. Have mercy, this is funny stuff.

I don’t want to give away the entire book here, but let’s just say the showdown continues. And just when you think Willy’s found a clever, loving solution to his need for Bobo and Earl’s need for Bobo, the Rosenthals present a last-page rimshot of a joke, Earl turning the tables once again on our hapless protagonist. And, as you can see in the spreads today, Rosenthal lays this all out with uncluttered cartoon spreads on cream-colored pages, conveying so much good-humored tension and expression with minimal lines and color.

Know why I like to quote the professional reviewers so much? Well, I don’t consider 7-Imp a review blog, first of all, but primarily I like to quote them, because they usually nail it — and so much more succinctly than I ever could. Kirkus wrote about this one in their starred review, “Willy, the protagonist of this small domestic drama, is perfectly, appropriately self-absorbed, as he is barely out of toddlerhood and, as his monologue reveals, he relies on his sock monkey, Bobo, to help him negotiate the challenges of being so young…Small listeners may recognize themselves in the worn-out, napping boy, curled up with his arm around both Bobo and Earl—-but some will also sympathize with Earl’s relentless, devoted recapturing of Bobo (clearly a shared prize in this household). Hilarious for adult readers; an exercise in self-recognition and empathy for the intended audience.”

Yes. THAT. What that reviewer said.

Such a funny book. I hope you get to see a copy soon.

I MUST HAVE BOBO! Copyright © 2011 Eileen Rosenthal. Illustration © 2011 Marc Rosenthal. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York.

As a reminder, 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

I’m going to be brief (for me) this morning. As mentioned above, I’m typing this on Friday night, since tomorrow morning I head out to a lovely bed-and-breakfast’y type place here in middle Tennessee to write for the weekend. An author friend convinced me to join her, so as you read this, I’m at an inn in beautiful Tennessee, organizing research notes for this big ‘ol project. Yes, writing in peace and quiet, all kid-free. I’ll miss my girls, but it’ll be nice to have the focused time to write. And I look forward to the company of my friend.

I leave you with three things:

1). This fabulous-in-seven-different-directions tribute to public libraries from British author Philip Pullman. Here’s my favorite part:

‎”I still remember the first library ticket I ever had…I was thrilled. All those books, and I was allowed to borrow whichever I wanted! And I remember some of the first books I borrowed and fell in love with…what a gift to give a child, this chance to discover that you can love a book and the characters in it, you can become their friend and share their adventures in your own imagination.

And the secrecy of it! The blessed privacy! No-one else can get in the way, no-one else can invade it, no-one else even knows what’s going on in that wonderful space that opens up between the reader and the book. That open democratic space full of thrills, full of excitement and fear, full of astonishment, where your own emotions and ideas are given back to you clarified, magnified, purified, valued. You’re a citizen of that great democratic space that opens up between you and the book. And the body that gave it to you is the public library. Can I possibly convey the magnitude of that gift?”

2). I love this image, and it’s fitting, given the amount of snow many of us have seen this winter. I don’t know this child (I got this photo from someone at Macmillan Children’s Publishing), but I love her already. The book being devoured by this fourth grader from Weston, Massachusetts, in her perfect little snow fort there is Barbara O’Connor’s How to Steal a Dog. (Photo credit: Katarina Krek. Yes, the mama’s permission was granted to use the photo.)

3). Now, this will make you get up and dance. (If you click the link up top next to “Listen/Download…”, you can hear it.) So very, very good, though I’m sad to hear Etta James is ill.

That’s about it, as I gotta go pack for my two days of writing.

But what about you? What are YOUR kicks this week? Do tell.

Wait. I guess, since we’re talking about snow, I have one more quick thing: I am falling in love, more and more every day, with this song, “While I Shovel the Snow,” by The Walkmen:

That picture’s not gonna move, but it’s simply a way to listen to the song. I hope you like it, too. It’s been haunting my brain radio for weeks now, hanging out, endearing itself to me quite persistently. It’s a beautiful song.





23 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #204: Featuring Marc Rosenthal”

  1. [...] Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast » Blog Archive » 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #204: Featuring Marc R… blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=2071 – view page – cached Well, I’ve finally finished posting about 2010 titles, for the most part. I might sneak in an interview here or there some time soon with folks who published picture books in 2010, but it’s time to look at what’s being released this year. And I’m happy to show some spreads this morning from a brand-new 2011 title that I find so winning on every possible level, not to mention a book that… Read moreWell, I’ve finally finished posting about 2010 titles, for the most part. I might sneak in an interview here or there some time soon with folks who published picture books in 2010, but it’s time to look at what’s being released this year. And I’m happy to show some spreads this morning from a brand-new 2011 title that I find so winning on every possible level, not to mention a book that made me and my wee girls laugh so hard we nearly split our collective pants. Okay, that simply doesn’t sound right, but I’m typing this post late-ish on Friday night, so forgive the nonsense that stems from my fatigue. “Collective pants” is kinda funny to think about, though. Admit View page [...]


  2. Jules, that writing weekend sounds like it will be worth at least four kicks. Kick ass.

    The Bobo book looks fun and whimsical…great pick.

    Quick kicks:
    1) Playing hockey tonight with friends
    2) Making minestrone soup for nine people for lunch
    3) Successful art openings in tiny small-town galleries
    4) Phillip Glass’s string quartets
    5) Dark chocolate and espresso
    6) Learning to make sushi
    7) Skating with my kids

    Have a great week, everyone.


  3. Jules, hope you are having a lovely (and productive) time away. It sounds like a wonderful weekend!

    The battle between Willy and Earl for Bobo looks hysterical – can’t wait to check it out!

    Love the little girl reading in the snow! And thanks for the awesome Etta James song – it rocks!

    I am early this week – had midnight indoor soccer game, so of course not ready for sleep yet.

    Hi Jeremy! Love your kicks, especially 1,3,5 & 7!

    My kicks this week:
    1)Midnight indoor soccer games. As inconvenient as it sounds, its actually quite fun. And even though we lost, we played well, and the other team were good sports (and played better).
    2)Volunteering at PAW team today. Its amazing how a few hours helping ut can make you feel so good.
    3)Read the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society this week.
    4) Finally upgraded my LibraryThing membership to lifetime status, and I’ve been having fun trying to remember every single book I’ve ever read and add it to my library. I’m not quite up to 300, so I’ve got a ways to go!
    5)Finally watched Revolutionary Road. I’m of two minds about how I feel about it (I read the book too) but Kate and Leo are always nice to watch.
    6)Caught Harry’s Law on the recommendation of a friend. Made melaugh out in parts – Kathy Bates is pretty awesome.
    7) Tonight, as I was checking out at a store, the woman ringing me up and I were chatting, nice and friendly, I thanked her and wished her goodnight when it was all done, and all of a sudden she looked at me said, “I hope all your dreams come true.” I was gobsmacked. Said thank you, and walked to my car with a big grin. What a nice, completely random thing to say to someone. She made my day.

    So not only do I hope everyone has a great week – I hope all your dreams come true too!


  4. Whoops! I meant to include a link. PAW Team. 
    They are great!


  5. Happy Sunday!

    I must have Bobo too. I feel deprived because I’ve never had a sock monkey. This might be way cheaper than paying for therapy.

    Your weekend writing retreat sounds so lovely, Jules! Hope you get lots done and enjoy the magic of the country inn. :)

    What a great list of kicks, Jeremy. Of course, #2 alone earns my undying affection and admiration.

    Rachel, your #7 is a beautiful kick! A little bit of unexpected kindness goes a long way. Thanks for passing it on!

    My main kick is that I finally feel better after two weeks of on and off blech. I drank a river of water and think that blasted kidney stone is finally out of my system.

    Also good recently: reading the fabulous Cybils Poetry Finalist books. Wow. Excellent, all of them.

    We survived the snowstorm; so glad we didn’t have a power outage. Lovely to see Fuzzy frolicking in the snow with his thick red fur coat.

    Colin Firth.

    People who say please and thank you.

    Have a good week and Happy February!


  6. Okay, I’m taking my computer out to the snowbank and listen to the Walkmen’s song reverberate off the snow crystals. Oh wait I can’t. I’m in Austin.
    Bobo and Early brightened my day. Thank you.
    And Philip Pullman…That quote. Librarians are under siege in Texas
    Sometimes your blog is so full of kicks that it’s hard to remember what my kicks were this week.
    Except one. Went to Cynthia Leitich Smith’s launch of Blessed yesterday. So fun.
    “Write like your fingers are on fire” for your two day retreat.


  7. On the fly. Jules, writing weekends are the best. I’m in ‘edford w/ my daughter and family. Best kicks has been all the birthday wishes yesterday and my family.
    Have a great week.


  8. I also need Bobo. This is reminding me, too, that I need to make a sock monkey for my younger godson now that he’s finally at an age where I can trust him not to swallow the button eyes.

    I hope your retreat is productive and restful, Jules.

    Jama, So glad to hear you’re feeling better!

    Rachel, That is an amazing story about that clerk telling you she hopes all your dreams come true. What a thing!

    My kick for the week is that yesterday I made a three-layer red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting (recipe from this book: onebigtable.com). I’d been dreaming about it all week and wondering if it would turn out as wonderfully as it looked on the page in the book, and wow did it ever.

    It is also a kick to be here, with time and an arm that isn’t too sore to type.


  9. Hi, Rosenthals! I Must Have Bobo! looks very funny. Bonus points for use of cat!

    Jules: Hope you are having a lovely weekend full of inspiration and writing. Yay for libraries. Yay for Pullman.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Short film shoot last Sunday
    2) Big changes
    3) Adapting
    4) Accepting
    5) Daring
    6) Thanking
    7) Another short film shoot yesterday

    Jeremy: Yum to the soup and the dark chocolate.

    Rachel (rm): Sounds like you had a lovely week. Kudos for your volunteer efforts. Hugs to the critters. Here’s to dreams coming true!

    Jama: SO glad that you are finally feeling better! Hurrah for good manners. Go, Colin Firth.

    Lindsey: Hope you had tons of kicks.

    Happy birthday, Jone!

    Adrienne: So good to see you here. Enjoy the cake.


  10. I sense that Earl the cat comes from a completely different strain of the family than last week’s Beckoning Cat.

    In the last spread you included, I like how Willie is captured a split-second after The Moment: he’s obviously been lost for a while in his drawing/coloring activities, but suddenly remembered the existence of Bobo, became suddenly aware of the monkey’s absence, and leaped to his feet, whirling in fury and already flinging accusations.

    Very jealous of your writing retreat, Jules. I used to fantasize about spending a few weeks at one of those creative-retreat centers like Yaddo or McDowell, but nowadays just the thought of a three-day block of time feels delicious!

    And that Walkmen track: whoa.

    Jeremy — great to see you again! Those kicks sound to me like the perfect ones for a midwinter week up your way. (Well, the skating and hockey ones would be more spectator sports for some of us, ha.)

    Oh, Rachel — so glad you provided the PAW link. What a wonderful-sounding activity… wonder if there’s anything like it around here? (A well-kept secret, if so!)

    And that checkout clerk deserves a big fat bonus.

    jama, so glad (knock on wood, or should that be a block of calcium?) that the k-stone’s gone. I’ve had them — none recently, thank the gods — and wouldn’t wish them on Earl the cat.

    Lindsey: “Write like your fingers are on fire” — !!!

    jone: yes, you did whoosh through. I prefer to think of it as a breeze.

    adrienne — oooh, off to check out the recipe. I’d love to be able to show off a successful red velvet cake at the next gathering of Southerners! (Wouldn’t make me popular with certain in-laws, known for their own, but still… or especially:) )

    LW, if you can ever slow down long enough to put this together, you could probably make a healthy profit from a page-a-day calendar of one-word kicks. And then there’s your kick #2, which would scare the bejeezus out of a lot of people but not you. Love it!

    Kicks o’mine:

    1. In recent weeks we had our carpeting replaced with wood floors, and a bunch of new windows installed in place of old ones which had been streaked with inner condensation practically since we moved in 10 years ago. The house is transformed — just the first day that unfiltered morning sunrise flooded the kitchen made it worthwhile. (P.S. No, I don’t know how we’re going to pay for it, either.)

    2. Scary, inspiring, nerve-wracking, heartwarming, altogether (and literally) tumultuous stories out of Egypt.

    3. Lindsey mentioned the troubles with Texas libraries. Chris Barton’s latest Bartography Express newsletter has a great item about this, including links to numerous posts on the topic at the site of another 7-Imp favorite, Liz Garton Scanlan. (As Chris says, btw, this doesn’t just apply to Texas libraries.)

    4. Friend in Tucson continues to heal.

    5. One night this week, The Missus, The Pooch, and I were in the living room, watching TV or whatever. (Mostly the latter, in The Pooch’s case.) The Missus said to me, “Have you noticed? Every single time we ask The Pooch a question, she looks up at us. It’s like she hears the question mark.” Which was kind of a kick itself. But then she turned to The Pooch and said, “You do that, don’t you?” The Pooch immediately looked down. A complete spit-take moment.

    6. Got ticket for the St. Pat’s weekend SibTrip.

    7. Gosh but I love 7-Imp. Don’t you?

    BONUS: The Missus and I were just wondering this week why nobody’s ever built a search engine to let people look up a song based on a melody they knew but couldn’t identify. We fantasized about designing such a site ourselves, and selling it to Google, and being able to retire on schedule, after all. Needless to say… (Even lets you whistle a tune to search on it!)


  11. P.S. That “Needless to say” is a link — forgot to highlight it. :)


  12. I’m pretty sure *I* must have Bobo. Anyone care to challenge?

    Kicks:

    1. Walking with my sweetie through Manhattan’s Wednesday blizzard for late-night tropical drinks.

    2. Leaving the bar later to find NYC replaced by a vast installation by Claes Oldenberg and Robert Ryman. The world was now fat, funky soft sculpture as far as the eye could see, but all painted in giddy, swarming, barely-inflected white on white. Garbage cans and cars have never been so endearing. Could have stayed out there forever.

    3 Surveying the snow sculptures the next day. A snow matron with long evergreen hair. A snow martian. A snow exhibitionist sitting on a Washington Sq. bench with a happy, guileless smile. A snowman languishing on a Madison Sq. bench with a sleeved paper coffee cup, a twig cigarette in his mouth, and an arm slung over the bench back. A long line of mini snowmen with stick arms, running down the middle of the path near the Madison Sq. playground. To name a few.

    4 Happening upon an older picture book that could saunter right into my PB pantheon: Snow, by Uri Shulevitz.

    5 A chocolate chip cookie from City Bakery in Manhattan.

    6 A chocolate brownie cookie from Choice in Brooklyn.

    7 And, since this is my first time commenting here: the big ongoing kick that is your blog.


  13. Oops, forgot to add a link to my name. (Revivifying my blog was another kick this week.)


  14. I now I must have I MUST HAVE BOBO. Determined boy vs. rascally cat, yes! (I have witness that scenario first hand, though my boys’ battle was over their ever-missing superball.)

    Fly-by this week (miles to go before I sleep.) Enjoyed everyone’s kicks and hope you are having a wonderful weekend Jules.

    Quick kick: (three-in-one)

    The Oscar nominees for animated features: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, TOY STORY 3 and THE ILLUSTIONIST.

    Winners all. I love seeing –and so knowing–that there is artistic genius and humor and grace and dedication to story & craft surviving, even thriving, in the film industry; especially in kids’ fare.


  15. Adrienne’s red velvet cake is a kick! I used to have those for my birthday. I’m also happy that Jules is enjoying a weekend retreat. Hurrah! Here are my kicks:

    1. Daily walks make me happy.

    2. My daughter’s best friend from her old school came with his parents to visit her new school during the open house after Mass this morning.

    3. An excursion to the coffee/cupcake shop was in order afterward. I’ve figured out that if I order short non-fat lattes, I stretch out my personal latte consumption throughout the day. I love tea, but there is something about coffee that provides the chocolately-ness I desire without the sweetness of sugar.

    4. Order is slowly being restored to the bedroom. It’s no longer QUITE the Sargasso Sea of our house.

    5. I’m discovering how much better food tastes when I have only water to drink. I am not kidding about this. The last time I had Indian food, I skipped over the bottomless cup of chai, and by the time the food came, I was blown away by how much more delicious the experience was.

    6. I can wear stripes! I had no idea.

    7. Haven Kimmel’s memoirs.


  16. JES: Thanks. I’m adjusting to the adjustments. Sounds like your pup would like the Mutts comic strip and books. Yay for wood floors! (I’m a tap dancer.) Good thoughts for your friend. Yay for Name-That-Tune and Musipedia.

    Carin: Welcome to the Sunday fun! I think the Imps can share Bobo.

    Denise: Three cheers for artistic genius.

    Farida: How sweet of your daughter’s friend to visit.


  17. Thank you, LW. And let’s hear it for tapdancing!


  18. Jeremy, something tells me your minestrone — and your skating, for that matter — would be good.

    Rachel, whoa. Yes, that last kick is a doozy, indeed. I’ve never even heard of Harry’s Law, and tell me: Was Revolutionary Road, the book, good? I’ve always wanted to read it.

    Jama, so glad you feel better, and I hope there wasn’t too much pain. And do you have warmer weather there yet, as we did this weekend? Hope so.

    Lindsey, thanks for the on-fire-while-writing well-wishes. Hope you enjoyed the song. Sounds like the Blessed event was a blast.

    Hope your birthday was all-good-things, Jone.

    Adrienne, glad to hear the arm is no longer sore. And I haven’t had red velvet cake in a long time. WANT SOME.

    Little Willow, I hope the big changes were good changes, but even if they were slightly un-good, I know you’d make the most of them (as John already noted). …I thought of you when I saw Earl, the kitty.

    John, your first sentence made me laugh outloud. And can I just say? I’m wow’ed by the musipedia link. Who knew? Brilliant. And kick #5? Wish I’d been there. Oh, and thanks for kick #7. Aren’t you kind.

    Carin! (Whom I’ve Already Emailed!) Welcome! So many exclamation marks. Sorry, but happy to see you here. What rich, yummy kicks, too. I want to see all those things.

    Denise, I am waiting so eagerly for The Illusionist to come out on DVD. Happy new-week to you.

    Farida, boy, do I love Haven’s memoirs. So pitch-perfect funny and heartbreaking, too (in spots). Love your water kick. Really. It’s usually the simple things that are the kickiest.

    Little Willow, yes, we can all share Bobo.


  19. Jules! Thanks so much for the warm welcome!! (There, we’re even on the exclamation marks.) 7-Imp is an impossibly wonderful site, and I love the sharing of kicks.


  20. Jules,

    Revolutionary Road, the book was a good read, he writes well about some unlikeable people. And for me, the difference between the book and the movie, is that the movie made the main characters more likeable. (Though that also could have been that kate and Leo are pretty likeable actors, too.)

    Harry’s Law is one of ten kerjillion new tv series, but its a David Kelley, and he’s back on his game again.

    Jone – happy birthday!

    Jama – glad you feel better!

    Adrienne – that red velvet cake sounds delicious!

    JES – hardwood floors and morning sunlight….ahhh. ove the story about the pup, too!

    Carin – chocolate – yum!


  21. Carin, thanks!

    Rachel, thanks, too. Will add the book to the toppling to-be-read pile.


  22. [...] Written by Eileen Rosenthal, Marc’s wife, I Must Have Bobo! (Atheneum, January 2011)—as I wrote in January—is the story of a straight up showdown between one young boy, Willy, and the family cat, the [...]


  23. [...] picture books of that year was Eileen and Marc Rosenthal’s I Must Have Bobo! (I featured it here at 7-Imp in January with illustrations from the book, and Marc also visited the blog here in [...]


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