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Bob: 09/15/18


Bob by Wendy Mass is a middle grade American road narrative set in the Australian bush, west of Melbourne. I'm going to arbitrarily say it's somewhere near Dunkeld just because it fits the setting of being a small rural town west of Melbourne about an hour or so's drive away. Despite the location, the book fits comfortably in the scarecrow wildlands cornfield category.

The book opens with Livy, her mother, and her baby sister arriving at her grandmother's farm. She was five the last time she was here and she doesn't remember any of it, except for a vague memory of a "weird chicken."

All is explained, though, when she discovers a "zombie" in a chicken costume living in her closet. The "zombie" is named Bob and has been waiting patiently for Livy to return.

The remainder of the book is primarily focused on two things: who is Bob and why is there such a long drought? The two questions end up being related. Early on I guessed primarily from Bob's location and the way Rebecca Steed draws him that he is a lost Wandjina, or rain spirit. Technically he's a little too far east to be one but Wendy Mass comes up with a more generic term for what Bob is.

In a broader sense, Bob is a scarecrow — a protector of crops. That he's a water based one and has a memory protection aspect to his being (meaning people forget him unless they have something specific to remind themselves of him). His home and his goal, though he has forgotten it, is in the middle of the wildlands just outside of town. His home then is through the cornfield at the heart of the wildlands.

Even without such a deep reading, Bob is a delightful book. It's beautifully designed with Steed's illustrations being brought into the text in the same way as the original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz edition.

Five stars

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