Review of Popcorn Bob

Popcorn Bob
by Maranke Rinck; illus. by Martijn van der Linden; trans. from Dutch by Nancy Forest-Flier
Primary, Intermediate    Levine Querido    152 pp.    g
4/21    978-1-64614-040-4    $14.99
e-book ed.  978-1-64614-067-1    $9.99

Bob, an egg-sized, anthropomorphic, unpopped kernel of popcorn wearing a Stetson, makes his way from the American Midwest to the Netherlands, where he falls in with Ellis, a more-or-less regular nine-year-old human girl. If this premise takes your fancy — and it will speak to many an early-chapter-book reader — then you’re ready to join Bob and Ellis as they fight to survive and undermine a new, threatening school policy of healthy eating. Bob is a lot of work. Ellis has to keep him secret at home and school, arrange regular reviving sessions in the microwave, prevent him from popping when he loses his temper, and save him when he is mistaken for a rubber duck. (Don’t ask.) The basic pattern here is that Bob wreaks havoc, and long-suffering Ellis gets blamed. A generous scattering of pencil drawings helps to maintain the pace, add funny detail, assist with the visualization (a kernel of corn herding sheep?), and, on a couple of text-free spreads, give us a moment of quiet to collect ourselves. The open-ended finale hints at a sequel from this wonderfully loopy Dutch author/illustrator duo.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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