I'm Not Bobby!

I'm Not Bobby!

3.0 1
by Jules Feiffer

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Bobby's parents are trying to get his attention, but Bobby is something else. For example, he's a monster, an airplane, a dinosaur. Anything but Bobby. It's not long before Bobby turns himself into an eagle, soaring away with Mom, Dad, and every other grown-up in his life chasing after him. But after a daring escape into outer space, Bobby gets hungry and…  See more details below


Bobby's parents are trying to get his attention, but Bobby is something else. For example, he's a monster, an airplane, a dinosaur. Anything but Bobby. It's not long before Bobby turns himself into an eagle, soaring away with Mom, Dad, and every other grown-up in his life chasing after him. But after a daring escape into outer space, Bobby gets hungry and returns to Earth to claim his dinner.

This hilarious escape story rings true to every child's struggle for independence -- not to mention a full tummy.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Could one of the most appealing picture books from 2001 become one of the most controversial, too? Entering the ring of debate is I'm Not Bobby! by author-illustrator Jules Feiffer. Feiffer's last two children's literature gems were Bark, George (HarperCollins, 1999) and I Lost My Bear (Morrow, 1998). In his newest work, he employs a loose, lively line. His fluid figures of ink and watercolor match the remote-control speed of a boy's imagination. With blank, white backgrounds, we see Bobby's mysterious mind at work. Bobby tires of his mother's constant summoning. The red-haired dynamo would like to be someone in someplace where he wouldn't hear his name called continually. Bobby tries on personas the way adult shoppers try on clothes. He slips from lion to dinosaur to monster then giant, from spaceship passenger and back again. Only the temptation of a snack lures Bobby back to humanhood. But will Bobby do his snacking as a boy or as another life-form? Although Bobby doesn't behave perfectly, he reacts believably. His quick-change fantasies may seem hard to follow in words alone (at least, to grown-up minds). But Feiffer's illustrations give a seamless transition to each vision Bobby has of himself. Whether it's Bobby the boy, the lion, the giant, or the horse, the character on the page still starts with a crimson mane. Ever since James Thurber introduced the world to Walter Mitty, readers of all ages have identified with day-dreaming protagonists. Feiffer's sweeping brushstrokes might inspire young readers or listeners to depict themselves in artful alter egos. Feiffer crafts two interlinking tales. We only hear the grown-up voices, family members who want Bobby to come inside. All wesee is Bobby, who shares his side of the story. Feiffer shows that it takes one creative mind for a youngster to cope with such older conformists. What's so shocking about a little boy who doesn't want to stop playing? Well, Bobby talks like a real boy. He imagines being someone, or something else, selecting language that might make adults squirm. Such as: "A monster comes all right. And it tears you to pieces. I kill the monster with one fist. Because I'm a giant. Lucky for you I'm not Bobby, who couldn't kill a monster. Even a sick, weak, puny monster." In Feiffer's defense, his monster, giant, and lion are three cartoonish creatures. His illustrations contain NO explicit violence. Bobby chooses other imaginary options on his own. He finds the perfect way to be good while having fun. I'm Not Bobby! is funny and frank, honest and hilarious. Let boys be boys. And let Feiffer be Feiffer! 2001, Hyperion, 32 pages, Owens
Children's Literature
When Bobby's mother calls him, he doesn't answer. He isn't Bobby, after all, he is a lion. Then he changes into a monster. When his mom gives chase, he transmogrifies into a galloping horse, a racecar and finally, a rocket ship that goes soaring away. The adults are "offstage," represented by mom's shouts spilling across the page in large print. Front and center is occupied by Bobby and his vivid imagination, depicted in watercolors in Feiffer's trademark style. At the book's end, the lion returns, but with Bobby's face, so the family will not be frightened. But mom better not withhold dinner, or he will eat her up! 2001, Michael di Capua/Hyperion, $15.95. Ages 3 to 8. Reviewer: Dr. Judy Rowen
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-Everyone is always calling Bobby, and he's tired of it. In order to avoid it, the boy fantasizes that he is not Bobby, but rather he's a horse, a lion, a race car, a spaceship, etc. A few of his imaginings are a little gruesome. "Better not call me again because I'm a monster. You know what a monster does when you yell `Come here!' at him? A monster comes all right. And it tears you to pieces." The fact that he then becomes a giant who kills the monster (his former self?) is both confusing and does not mitigate the violence of his previous imagining. As the person (presumably his mother) continues to call him without a response, she also begins to threaten. In two-inch-high letters that slant aggressively up the page, she shouts, "I'm coming to get you and are YOU going to be SORRY!" When, in Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are (HarperCollins, 1988), Max threatens to eat his mother up and goes off on his escapist fantasy, he returns home to find his still-hot supper waiting. The deliciously naughty protagonist of David Shannon's No, David! (Scholastic, 1998) receives reassurance at the end of that book that, yes, he is loved. When Bobby gives in to his hunger and goes home, there are no reassurances that he will not "get it" before he is fed. In all, the boy's extreme reaction to simply being called is not likely to engage readers' sympathies, and Feiffer's energetic cartoons punctuated with black slashes lend an angry, not a humorous air to the story. For books where a child's naughtiness is resolved positively, stick with the two aforementioned titles or Molly Bang's When Sophie Gets Angry-Really, Really Angry (Scholastic, 1998).-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Golden-brown puppy George had his own existential difficulties finding his voice in Feiffer's last offering (Bark, George!, 1999). This time, a boy named Bobby has an existential emergency of his own when he declares (repeatedly and loudly), "I'm not Bobby!" It's the old deny-thy-parent-and-refuse-thy-name ruse, not for reasons of a familial feud, but just to get away from a demanding mother's agenda. Bobby's mother is always yelling for him, shown in three-inch-tall letters hand-scrawled across the page in thick, black lines. She yells his name, issues vague threats, and enlists the help of other relatives to chase him, but Bobby is busy transforming himself (through his considerable imagination) into commanding animals, monsters, and vehicles, with a running first-person text at the bottom of each page. Bobby's powerful emotions fairly burst off the page in Feiffer's edgy watercolors, especially when he turns into a whirling wild thing of a monster. ("A monster comes all right. And it tears you to pieces.") Eventually, after a fanciful journey in his spaceship, Bobby gets hungry and transforms himself back into a lion with "a Bobby face," who returns home, where he expects to find dinner and the restoration of his TV privileges by his parents. ("Or I'll eat them.") Some adults will object to Bobby's emotional excesses, and others will object to the mother's screams and threats, but plenty of youngsters who are wild things at heart will eat this up. (Picture book. 3-6)

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Product Details

Hyperion Books for Children
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
Product dimensions:
9.37(w) x 11.62(h) x 0.50(d)
AD60L (what's this?)
Age Range:
2 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Jules Feiffer is an acclaimed American editorial cartoonist, playwright, novelist, and screenwriter. Born in the Bronx in 1929, he cultivated his craft at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He ran a Pulitzer prize winning comic strip column in the Village Voice for nearly 42 years. He has also written 26 children's books, several of them award winning. In 2004, he was inducted into the comic book hall of fame.

Brief Biography

New York, New York
Date of Birth:
January 26, 1929
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
The Pratt Institute, 1951

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3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the story of a little boy who kept telling everyone he didn't want to be Bobby. He keeps pretending to be something else. At the end, he says he is Bobby because he is hungry. It was a good book.