Friday, February 15, 2013

Hello My Name Is Bob by Linas Alsenas

Hello My Name Is Bob is a metafictional picture book that always makes me smile. Author and illustrator Linas Alsenas breaks the fourth wall and has Bob address his readers directly. "You shouldn't really bother reading this book. You'll be totally bored by the end." In the illustration, it's clear that the book Bob is reading is Hello My Name Is Bob.

Bob describes the many ways that he and his clownish friend Jack are opposite. Bob likes quiet, calm things. He is happy with a small scoop of ice cream (probably vanilla) while Jack gets a humungous cone with five flavours, various toppings and a cherry on top. 

The fact that they live together is unstated, but Jack's impromptu drag routine in their laundry room can be taken as evidence. Jack's flashy clothes are in a messy pile, while Bob's are neatly folded. In the final scene, Jack is sound asleep with Bob's arm around him on their couch. Awww.

This is one of the books I'll be talking about to a children's literature class at the University of Alberta later today. My topic is Queer Role Models in 21st Century Picture Books for Children. The list of titles is available online; many are also included in the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity resource guide that I helped compile for the Edmonton Public School Board.

Teachers can use Hello My Name is Bob to reinforce valuing unique characteristics, interests, and talents in oneself and others. Preschool to Grade 2.

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