Quite apart from the usual nightmare of finding the right name for your child is the relaxing, fun activity of giving them nicknames. Iris has loads. From the usual Peanut, Pea, Baby, Monkey, etc to the not so often heard Bubbles, Chuchee and Fartex (given by Dad during her colicky phase, though if you ask me, it’s pot calling kettle). However, her first one, which came so naturally was Bobo. We have since come across this in various characters in books and film, just go the Wikipedia entry to see how widely it’s used! Of course, at the time, we thought it was pretty unique. Thus our delight when we came across Eileen and Marc Rosenthal’s I Must Have Bobo! and its sequel I’ll Save You Bobo!
They’re both about a little boy named Willy who has a lovey (favourite toy/blanket), a monkey called Bobo. The problem is, his cat, Earl, also loves Bobo and is constantly trying to make off with it. Easy to read with a lovely sans serif font and clean drawings with a simple colour palette.
In I Must Have Bobo! Willy wakes up in a kerfuffle because he can’t find Bobo. He goes on to list all the things he needs Bobo for. Where is the monkey? Having a cuddle with Earl under the blanket. The day goes on and Earl keeps trying to steal Bobo away. Finally he succeeds and Willy goes on a hunt. He discovers them again in flagrante delicto on the sofa and very lovingly decides to curl up together with them. Earl, however, has other ideas.
For some reason, when Iris was about 20 months old, she developed an obsession with the sequel, I’ll Save You Bobo and not a night went by that she didn’t ask for it to be read, as can be seen by the wear on the book. She could memorise the words within a month and I used let her finish the last word of each sentence, which she was yell with absolute glee. This went on for several months. Then just as suddenly, her interest waned. Now, just as we hardly call her Bobo, she doesn’t remember her old flame either. It is still a great go-to book when she’s clamouring for one more and I want something short and sweet.
This time, Willy is reading about dinosaurs, or trying to at least what with a grey moggie clambering all over him. He then decides to write his own adventure story replete with a jungle, tigers, snakes and poisonous mushrooms. He makes a tent, of course, but Earl ruins it with his very ungainly attack. In retaliation, Willy writes a story where Earl is eaten by a snake. Earl, in turn, gives his own back at the end.
The saga continues with the Rosenthals’ latest in the Bobo series, Bobo the Sailor Man!