cover image Chez Bob

Chez Bob

Bob Shea. Little, Brown, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-48311-7

Bob, a bright yellow alligator intent on laziness, thinks, “Maybe if I ask nicely, a bird will fly in my mouth and down into my belly.” When that comes to naught, he hits on the idea of opening a birdseed restaurant for birds—on his nose—and figures he’ll get rich franchising it (“I will have diamond teeth and a solid-gold hat!”). But Chez Bob becomes so popular that its avid avian following builds a town around the restaurant, and Bob, now the proverbial small business owner, finds himself a pillar of the community. When he finally has the opportunity to get his mouth around his feathered patrons and neighbors, he makes a new choice. Shea (Who Wet My Pants?) puts a fresh spin on the tale of a villain reformed by spoofing contemporary rhetoric around the communal good: as a “positive role model for the birds I’m going to eat,” Bob even coaches a local bird basketball team. Shea’s always-striking art has a marvelous lightness here, thanks to the bevy of bird characters and a cheery tropical palette, making for a book that’s funny and lovely to look at, too. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Aug.) [/em]