cover image Bobo’s Smile

Bobo’s Smile

Seymour Chwast. Creative Editions, $14.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-56846-221-9

Chwast’s (My Daddy and Me) instantly recognizable style makes every jaunty spread of this episodic story worth framing. Its hero, Bobo the clown, looks part human and part doll—his ruffled collar, striped pants, and white makeup never come off. After Bobo’s career comes to a sudden end (“One day, they closed the circus”), he travels the world, taking photographs of pagodas and riding elephants. Yet not even a ride in a submarine can cheer him up. A thief robs him after he returns from his trip, and the buttons pop off his costume; instinctively, he begins to juggle them, a crowd gathers, and he’s back in business. “I smiled,” he says at last. The book’s long middle section is puzzling, and the halting narration (“I went on rides. I saw strange buildings”) doesn’t help. Bobo’s travels show him an enchanting world, but his lost expression dampens the pleasure for readers. At its best, it’s a story about finding one’s way after a setback, but the portrait of unemployment and depression may hit too close to home for some parents. Ages 3–up. (Apr.)