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Archive for January 15th, 2018

by Sam Juliano

Few things in life are as nagging and uncomfortable as a stuffy nose.  More often than not your breathing is negotiated through the mouth after a runny nose and the ensuing mucus impede the normal coordinated mode.  Taste and smell are mitigated and the voice can be comically compromised.  Usually, the person maligned with the most severe of colds loses interest in doing anything until they are given some measure of medical reprieve.   For a young boy the latter restriction can bring an entirely new meaning to domestic communication when signals are crossed, causing a normally welcome visitor immediate access to one’s unwanted list.  The African American protagonist who is the center of a markedly intimate domestic rhubarb in Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick’s tumultuous Bob, Not Bob! has undergone an attitude and behavioral metamorphosis, one completely reliant on a mother’s unbridled attention.  In Bob, Not Bob! by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick, with illustrations by Matthew Cordell, a boy is forced to suspend his favorite activities and rely on parental doting.  Alas not everyone is in his shoes.

Though Little Louie’s prominence in this tale of nasal congestion and all the bedlam it can cause in a household is  abundantly clear on the book’s three member front cover dynamic and end papers of the bawling tot clinging to his mom’s leg he is pictured confidently standing on a rock with one leg on the first page of the text, where the writing duo declare: Little Louie wasn’t all that little.  It wasn’t like he needed his mom every minute of the day.  But all bets are off after a single ah-Choooo! launches perhaps the most memorable sick time spent in a house since Camilla Cream came down with the strangest of maladies in the 1998 Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon.  As a clock ticks and tocks Louie’s mom is shown attending to her charge, carrying a bowl of soup, measuring a dose of medicine and taking his temperature in three minute intervals. Cordell shows Louie in several stages of congestion, but as is the case with just about everyone in the grip of a head cold, it always comes down to the havoc it wreaks on Pinocchio’s most ubiquitous feature.  In such a  lamentable state all normally welcome activities such as coloring, watching television or even shooting baskets with his own wadded up tissues had zero appeal to an especially unhappy camper.  Though a tiny concession to his fondness for hot chocolate   Cordell’s sublime, trademark uncluttered scratch board pen and ink, watercolor minimalism is the perfect tonic for such a “poor baby” scenario.  The exclamatory request for “Bob!,” which readers of course will understand it really for “Mom” because of the heart shaped “O” but also because all young kids with a bad cold want mom around 24-7. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Martin Luther King Day is one of historical reflection for all those who rightly counted this towering civil rights activist as one of the great Americans.  Most schools are closed though in my New Jersey hometown the teachers are in for workshops, while the kids have a day off.  The movie Selma would be an ideal choice for though looking for a tie-in.

The Caldecott Medal Contender series continues with the twenty-sixth entry set to publish later in the day.  The winners won’t be announced until February 12th, so it is likely in the neighborhood of a dozen more reviews will be posted.  Specification for Part 2 of the Greatest Television series countdown are upcoming, though it seems now like we won’t be underway any earlier than March 1st.  The Allan Fish Online Film Festival will commence on friend’s birthday in late May, meaning the television project will take a break until the AFOFF is completed.  James Clark’s incomparable films essays continue, with the most recent a towering piece on Ruben Ostlund’s Swedish satire and Palme d’Or winner The Square.  J.D. Lafrance also moves forward with a terrific review of Tony Scott’s Domino. (more…)

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