Publication Date: March 23, 2014
The author, James Gordon, gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my review.
To this 43-year-old reviewer, Hi, My Name is Bobo.: (A Weekend in the Life of a 5th Grader) (Step into the World of Bobo Book 1) is a look back at what weekends was like when I was a kid. Dad yelling at the television (but my Ohio born dad cheered for the Browns and not the Bears), Saturday morning cartoons and trips out on public buses to the movies. The story is dated to 1978 by a viewing of “Superman” at the theater. The imagery of Bobo and Smiley flying around like “Superman” as they leave the theater gives a sweet throwback to what many of us who are older may remember and think fondly of the characters we emulated. Written in an easy free form style of prose, the author intersperses the tale with sweet and charming family photographs. I thoroughly enjoyed this read.
The 12-year-old who read along with me had a slightly different view. The book is listed as having a target audience of 8-14 so Alex falls squarely in the desired demographic. “Does he think kids are stupid?” she asked after reading the first few vignettes. She meant this in no way to be rude, but to perhaps ill express her opinion that older children are ready for more of a challenge in their reading material. In fact, many of the reviews on Amazon suggested that the parents reviewing had read the book to their children and enjoyed it quite a lot in the sense of a bedtime ritual. Alex felt that the formatting of the text read more as a picture book than a free form prose and thought that the demographic should lean toward readers just starting out. There are some themes that may be a bit mature for younger readers such as Bobo’s thoughts about race and the hint of violence on a bus and the weight of what may have happened had the police not arrived but Hi, My Name is Bobo.: (A Weekend in the Life of a 5th Grader) (Step into the World of Bobo Book 1) is well suited for the younger years. For children who have entered the world of picture books and for whom a mention of “My Little Pony” will you get you alienated, Hi, My Name is Bobo.: (A Weekend in the Life of a 5th Grader) (Step into the World of Bobo Book 1) may fall into that “for kids” forbidden zone.
At its heart, Hi, My Name is Bobo.: (A Weekend in the Life of a 5th Grader) (Step into the World of Bobo Book 1) is a happy and open story of a boy and his brother being children and growing up in the inner-city. Eating donuts on Sundays and mixing varied flavors of Kool-Aid (something Alex has been inspired to try). Writing notes to girls, worrying about God’s wrath for what you do in his house and having trouble sleeping after seeing the devil on television. It’s an innocent story of a simpler time when Minecraft and Xbox weren’t the go-to on every fifth-grader’s after-school list. The professional editing from Becca Wolford shines as there are simply no errors in this charming piece.
There is but one clear and glaring error. What did Maria circle? Alex and I are anxious to know.
If you have an early reader, pick up Hi, My Name is Bobo.: (A Weekend in the Life of a 5th Grader) (Step into the World of Bobo Book 1). You may have to discuss some of the depths of the story with your young reader, but opening a dialogue is never a bad thing.