7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #756: Featuring Bob Shea

h1 August 15th, 2021 by jules


It’s a good day to visit Chez Bob by Bob Shea.

Bob is a very hungry alligator, but he’s also lazy. His solution? He opens a birdseed restaurant on his nose in order to attract the birds he’d like to snack on. Birdseed may be the one and only thing on the menu, but Bob does attract a visitor at Chez Bob. After that first bird tells all his friends about the new place, Bob becomes “the talk of the trees. Birds flew in from all over the world to eat on Bob’s face.”

Soon, an entire town springs up around Bob, and he finds himself becoming an integral part of the community. Readers are privy to Bob’s (very funny) inner thoughts, and we know he’s conflicted. He still plans on eating the birds (“It’s rewarding to be a positive role model for the birds I’m going to eat, thought Bob”), but since he’s becoming friends with them, one suspects he just might find it difficult to devour them. (He has ample opportunities, after all, to chomp on some birds but keeps putting it off, since he’s too busy doing things like coaching the basketball team.) This proves to be true when a frightening storm has Bob inviting them all to hide in his mouth in order to escape the dangerous weather.

It’s a sweet story with a touching ending, and it’s pleasing to see Bob’s transformation — but it’s never saccharine. (Shea wouldn’t do that to us.) There’s a lot of droll, understated humor in the text — “Welcome to Chez Bob, which is a real restaurant and not a trick,” Bob says to this first visitor — and exaggerated visual humor (primarily in Bob’s dramatic facial expressions and supremely sharp teeth), as you can see in the sketches and spreads below.

Indicentally, on the copyright page, where we’d normally read about the medium used to create the illustrations, we read: “The illustrations for this book were done in a comfortable chair while listening to records.” However they were made, they are entertaining.

The book will arrive on shelves early next month from Little, Brown. Today at 7-Imp, Bob (the non-reptile one) shares some early pencil sketches; images from two dummies (the first one done years ago, he says); some sketches from the book (the image opening this post is one of those, because yes, Bob even joins a book club with the birds); and some final illustrations. I thank him for sharing.


Early Pencil Sketches:


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Images from the Original Dummy:


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From the Dummy Sent to the Publisher:





Some Final Spreads:


“Bob worked very hard at being lazy. ‘Being lazy is making me very hungry,’ said Bob
to no one. ‘Maybe if I ask nicely, a bird will fly in my mouth and down into my belly.'”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“‘Welcome to Chez Bob, which is a real restaurant and not a trick.'”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“Now is my chance to eat the birds, thought Bob. I cannot wait to see the looks on their beaks when they check out my diamond teeth and solid-gold hat!
They will be jealous and amazed.”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“‘Yay! Bob saved us!’ cheered the birds that Bob probably was not going to eat. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)



CHEZ BOB. Copyright © 2021 by Bob Shea. Published by Little, Brown and Company, New York. All images reproduced by permission of Bob Shea.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 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. New kickers are always welcome.

1) A delicious dinner with good friends.

2) Getting a copy of Dustin O’Halloran’s new album. Double vinyl FTW.

3) A long walk with my friend.

4) Surprises in the mail.

5) I finished Hamnet and didn’t want it to end.

6) Deep breaths.

7) Tonight is the last episode of The White Lotus. I’m a little bit obsessed with this show.

Bonus kick) Bob Shea is a national treasure.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

6 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #756: Featuring Bob Shea”

  1. OH Chez Bob, you are fun. I love the colors of the illustrations. It will be a great read aloud to have
    Jules, surprises in the mail are so fun! So are long walks. I bough Hamnet after reading. And I have checked out O’Farrell’s other books.
    My kicks:
    1. Poetry is returning to the CYBILS.
    2. A workshop with Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell.
    3. A poem came to me after a walk.
    4. Finished an art project.
    5. Time with friends.
    6. Writing.
    7. Fresh local sweet watermelon.
    Have a great week.

  2. Oh, I have read this book and it is fabulous. I love Bob Shea’s artwork and his amazing sense of humor. Thank you for this post. I do love process art.

    I am so glad you had a long walk with a good friend. Those are soul-lifting, Jules.

    Oh, Jone . . . I’ll bet the poetry workshop with Wong and Vardell was fantastic.

    My kicks:
    1. Sunshine
    2. Lots of rain
    3. I am starting to move furniture from the garage into the finished bedrooms in this house. It has been hard living in one room for several months. (At least I have one room.)
    4. Watching the flowers bloom in succession as the summer progresses.
    5. Fresh fruits and vegetables
    6. Feeling better after weeks of being sick (COVID negative and vaccinated)
    7. Daily walks with my sweet Mulan

    Ditto on Jone’s wish for a great week.

  3. Love this potentially vegetarian alligator! The humor and fun shines through.

    Jules – delicious dinners with friends is one life’s greatest pleasures. Ditto for long walks with friends. Hooray for good books, good music and surprises in the mail.

    Jone – what a lovely week you’ve had. That poetry workshop sounds amazing, and fresh watermelon is the best. Hope you’ve been keeping cool in this heat.

    Margie – Glad you’re feeling better! Send that rain our way. Hi to Mulan!

    My kicks this week:
    1) Like Jules, I cannot wait for tonight’s White Lotus finale!
    2) Seeing progress on a local issue: https://www.portlandmercury.com/blogtown/2021/08/11/35853142/women-defense-attorneys-accuse-oregons-public-defense-agency-of-retaliation-and-pay-inequity?cb=39cb5c0a0b7b0eeac9c7eddae2c88a9c
    3) Tennis this morning. We are still not great and it is still very fun.
    4) Seeing a friend who drove up for a day and meeting her new pup Finn.
    5) Spending a day/night in a local hotel with Daisy to beat the heat on Thursday. It was a nice break, and Daisy took to hotel life pretty quickly.
    6) Dinner with a colleague and a former client to celebrate the former client’s success. So happy for them.
    7) Read Val Kilmer’s “I’m Your Huckleyberry” earlier this summer and then just watched the documentary “Val” on amazon prime. Really beautiful, sad, intimate, loving and joyful look at the life of such a talented actor.
    7.5) Feeling grateful to have good friends and a good dog.

    Have a great week everyone!

  4. Hi Imps! Hi Bob(s)! Here’s to comfortable chairs and kindhearted beings. Hope you are all having a great weekend.

    Jules: Enjoy the entertainment, deep breaths, and happy surprises.

    Jone: I love when inspiration strikes like that!

    Margie: Glad you’re feeling better! Hello to Mulan and the fresh foods and flowers.

    Rachel: Stay cool! May the matter continue to progress favorably.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Clips
    2) Cleaning
    3) Learning
    4) Order
    5) Noodles
    6) Space
    7) Sound

  5. PS Book Alert: We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez…told in two voices about three kids running from Guatemala, riding La Bestia. Could not put it down.

  6. Jone, you were in great hands with that workshop. What was your art project, if you don’t mind me asking? And last year I read that book you mention. It is, indeed, unputdownable and very eye-opening (for a privileged white person like me).

    Margie, I’m so sorry to read you were sick. I’m glad you’re feeling better and can take daily walks with Mulan. Congrats on kick #3. Wish I were a neighbor and could help you. Also, I love that you paused to say “At least I have one room.”

    Rachel, glad you were able to escape the heat. Love the 2nd and sixth kicks, in particular. Here’s to playing fun tennis badly. Hugs to Daisy.

    Little Willow, at first I thought you had “chips” as your first kick (always a kick for me). “Clips,” however, is more up your alley. NOODLES. Space. Sound. I love the way those kicks end.

    Have a good week, you all. …

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