Earl the cat is back—hurray!
Willy, the young narrator of I Must Have Bobo! (2011) here puts down the book he’s reading in order to create a more exciting story himself, while his sock monkey Bobo serves as audience for his crayon drawings and narrative about a jungle adventure. Earl, the cat who also loves Bobo, provides the action in this drama. The (mostly) unruffled feline antagonist does not deliberately interrupt the crayon story but manages to do so just the same in his determination to carry out his own mission: acquiring Bobo. And without Earl, there would be little tension in this simple story. He creeps over the back of the armchair, only to be casually rebuffed by the hero; he reacts, all his fur on end, to the part in the imaginary narrative where a large snake eats the cat; he climbs atop the “tent” Willy assembles with a couple of chairs and a sheet. The cartoon illustrations create a kind of spotlight for the story: boy, drawing table and crayons, armchair, Bobo and cat. Earl, with his small gray body and round eyes remains both steadfastly catlike and slyly, charmingly funny: a constant companion for Willy, even as Bobo is a more favored and predictable one. Both help to circumscribe a childhood in which adventure is appealingly tolerable and safe.
Endearing and inviting. (Picture book. 2-6)