cover image I'M NOT BOBBY!


Jules Feiffer, . . Hyperion/di Capua, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0906-6

In a cathartic book that recalls aspects of Where the Wild Things Are, a boy refuses to answer to his name and adopts potent alter egos. At first, he slouches amid empty white space, ignoring a hand-lettered, black-ink "Bobby!" that blasts across the opposite page. "She's always calling 'Bobby, Bobby, Bobby!' " he complains. "Now I'm a dinosaur. [Bobby!] Nobody goes around calling 'Dinosaur, Dinosaur, Dinosaur!' all the time." His resentful statements are punctuated with quiet periods, but in the double-page image, a horrific tyrannosaurus crouches and snarls (Bobby's shock of red hair is a sign of its real identity). Next, Bobby transforms into a bristling, jagged-toothed Sasquatch that hurtles across the page in a frenzy of vicious ink scribbles. A monster comes when it's called, he says, "And it tears you to pieces. Unless I come to save you. I kill the monster with one fist. Because I'm a giant." As Bobby metamorphoses, scrawled threats ("You're in big trouble now, young man!") suggest unseen adults in hot pursuit. Bobby escapes in spaceship form and finally decides for himself when to go home: "I'm hungry. Space is stupid." Feiffer (Meanwhile…) nods to the legacy of the comic strip's visual narrative with each transition; Bobby's evolution into a giant, for instance, takes place over an entire spread and seems to lift off from the page in a kind of slow-motion cinematic sequence. The oversize images crackle with energy as Bobby goes from rage to defiant joy to relieved exhaustion. Feiffer's words and pictures convey visceral anger and show uncommon respect for the moody hero. Ages 2-up. (Sept.)