Young Bob, introduced in Goodnight Bob (2016), is content to play with his pet rock while friend Max is frustrated by his dog’s unresponsive behavior.
Max presents his dog and announces, “Dog will do tricks.” On the opposite page Bob replies, “Rock will do tricks.” Each double-page spread unfolds similarly, with simple, repetitive text that outlines a basic pattern. Max orders his dog to do various tricks while the untrained animal ignores the commands. On the alternate page or following spread, Bob calmly repeats the command for his pet rock and then maneuvers the rock accordingly. “ ‘Roll over,’ said Max. Dog did not roll over.” Instead readers see Dog happily chasing a bee. But…“Rock rolls over,” Bob says, rolling the rock across the grass. The two boys, light-brown–skinned Max and pale-skinned Bob, are similarly drawn, with childlike black-outlined figures, round heads, dots for eyes, circles for noses, and a curly dark squiggle for Max’s hair versus four bristly lines for Bob’s blond buzz cut. Each illustration clearly shows what Dog is doing as the big, white canine ignores Max’s commands. This pairing of text and art completes the readable story beyond the words. The sarcasm in the final line, “Max stepped in dog poo,” feels a little out of step. Readers then cued to look for poo will not find any, and they may be puzzled as to whether Bob is speaking for Rock or Rock is speaking for itself.
The controlled vocabulary and repetition make this picture book a good segue for fledgling readers. (Picture book. 5-6)