Book Review: Big Bob, Little Bob By James Howe


Big Bob, Little Bob. James Howe. Illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson. Candlewick Press, Somerville, 2016.


Big Bob and Little Bob are the same in name only. The new neighbors learn how to navigate a different kind of friendship and discover that what makes us different can also bring us together.


In building a long relationship with reading, kids look for books they relate to. How they see themselves reflected on the pages. How they relate to the characters in the story. How the story problem can help the reader solve his own problems. This is a huge part of Print Motivation, which simply means enjoying the books we read. And there are a lot of different reasons that make a book a fun book to read.

James Howe has been writing books for decades. I fell in love with his characters: Bunnicula, Howard and Chester when I was a child. He has written early reader books and picture books as well. Howe is one of those authors who remembers what it was like to be a kid and this picture book is a reflection of his insight.

All kids feel out of place or different. There is a pressure to be like everyone else. Howe helps kids explore how to celebrate our differences instead of conforming to them. Sharing this story with a loved one will help kids feel safe as they explore this topic.

I also appreciate that he shows the complicated relationship between the neighbor boys and how conflict is handled not with action but with words. Picture books do so much more for our kids than build future readers. They help build empathy and problem solving skills that will benefit our kids as they go through school.


Use this book as a conversation starter. Talk about a time you felt out of place. What you felt, how you acted and how you solved the problem. Sharing stories of our own emotional journeys will help our kids talk about their own feelings and allow a space for them to think about conflict with others before it happens and how they will handle the conflict. Books are always a great jumping off point for deeper talk with our kids.

I really like this activity from the Pinterested Parent blog. Take paper plates and draw different faces. Glue a popsicle/craft stick to the plate and label the emotion at the bottom of the face. It will connect the word with the picture increasing vocabulary. Read through the story again and stop and ask your child to lift up the face he thinks the character feels. For example:

Image from Amazon

Read the page and ask your child: How do you think Little Bob feels when he doesn’t catch the ball?

The faces can even be used when your child is having strong feelings. Sometimes our kids can’t verbalize the emotion, but try using the plates to help her express what she feels. Always lead by example. Say how you feel about the disagreement you are having and choose the face that best expresses that. Then ask your child to do the same. It will help build emotional literacy and allow your child a better understanding of how to express herself.

What to Read Next

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What books have you read with your child that has sparked interesting conversations? Share in the comments section of the post.


My Favorite Authors: Mo Willems

It isn’t often that the kids and I agree on the same books. What they like about one book annoys me and what I like in a book they just don’t get. But there are a few authors we all agree on. And I thought I would highlight those authors starting with a family favorite-

Mo Willems.

I have been reading Mo Willems since my oldest was in diapers. We started with Knuffle Bunny. A fun story about a girl, her favorite snuggly and its disappearance. Mo Willems has simple graphics along with engaging text. Knuffle Bunny is a story all kids and parents can relate to; how do we feel when we lose something we love.

The Pigeon stories were never on the shelves of the library when my middle was little because they were always at our house. He loved the admonitions about not letting the pigeon drive a bus or not letting the pigeon stay up late. I think he related to all the things he wasn’t allowed to do! And even though we read the story a million and one times we never grew bored searching the end pages for the the picture on the pigeon.

My youngest lives off of Elephant and Piggie’s adventures. Now she reads them to me as we devour the shelf of books at the library chronicling this special friendship. You know books are special when a book stops each of my kids in their tracks for an impromptu story time.

Mo Willems has a great website you can explore on your own or with your kids. You can find it here.

I believe Mo Willems will go down as the Dr. Seuss of our time. He has many Caldecott honor awards as well as Geisal awards His books are simple, silly and fun. He knows his audience well and keeps producing books that tie children to a love of reading all while providing words that help them grow as readers. His books are perfect for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, emergent readers and independent readers. I love that my children and I all enjoy picking up a Mo Willems book even if it is one we have read and enjoyed over and over and over again.

So if you are a Mo Willem’s fan tell us what you love to read in the comments and if you haven’t discovered his books you can find them everywhere! At bookstores, online and libraries.



(I am not paid to review books. The opinions I share are mine and mine alone. I am an Amazon Affiliate so if you click on the pictures below and make a purchase from Amazon I do receive a portion of the sale.)