A particularly poker-faced clown searches far and wide for happiness after the circus closes, only to find it after a most unexpected and unpleasant event.
On the cover Bobo’s smile is missing. Even though the endpapers offer myriad upturned mouths to choose from, recovering his smile will not come so easily. Yes, life was good when he could make people laugh, but that all vanishes when the circus is shuttered. Initially sad, the clown decides to take a trip around the world. Chwast’s flat, bright colors outlined in ink on muted pastel backgrounds illustrate his many adventures: in an airplane, on a roller coaster, astride an elephant and underwater. Each framed picture portrays a straight-faced Bobo experiencing it all. The first-person narration, delivered in an easy-to-read text, accompanies the retro graphic art. “Finally it was time to go home.” The following wordless spread reveals a bewildered Bobo crossing a city street teeming with vehicles. Somewhat shockingly the page turn shows a suspicious man all in brown robbing the colorful clown. This results in the buttons falling off of his clothes and hat. He then begins to juggle the buttons—still with an expressionless face. Soon his juggling draws a crowd. Then he smiles.
Unfortunately, the well-meaning message is delivered by a character whose lack of affect has no likely appeal for the intended preschool audience. (Picture book. 3-5)