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by James Howe ; illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4436-9
Publisher: Candlewick

Friendship transcends gender norms.

When Big Bob moves next door, Little Bob is leery of befriending him. The main problem isn't their size difference, it’s that they enjoy different things. Without malice apparent in the cheery, digital cartoon depictions of the smiling, light-skinned boys, Big Bob tells Little Bob, “Boys do not play with dolls….They play with trucks.” Little Bob isn’t persuaded and continues playing with his dolls, but Big Bob’s antics with his trucks and a ball destroy Little Bob’s playtime tableaux. Big Bob apologizes and explains, “You were supposed to catch the ball,” but Little Bob responds that he’s not good at playing catch. They can’t find common ground in attempts at shared activities, but this lack of connection never seems rooted in animosity, even when Big Bob remarks on Little Bob’s wearing a dress. Then Blossom, also light-skinned, moves in nearby, and she teases Little Bob about playing with dolls. This time, he’s hurt, and Big Bob comes to his defense: “Boys can do whatever they want!” Chagrined, she leaves, but Little Bob calls her back. Blossom returns, sharing that she likes playing with trucks, which Big Bob affirms since “Girls can do whatever they want, too.” The children then happily engage in play with their various toys, offering an ending that seems righteous if a bit forced.

Free to be Big Bob, Little Bob, and Blossom. (Picture book. 4-7)