Bob is a bird with very skinny legs. He’s perfectly fine with his image, until overhearing unkind remarks from Cat and Owl, and facing direct criticism from some other mean birds. “This teasing made Bob very sad,” and self-conscious. Bob went to the gym, tried eating his legs bigger, covered them with a long coat and leg warmers, but this didn’t fix ‘his problem’. Walks seem to be Bob’s thing. On one that took him to an art gallery, “Bob was inspired”. Energised by the likes of Matisse, Mondrian, Picasso, and Jackson Pollack. Bob paints his beak with colourful patterns. Attention moves away from his legs. Those who were previous unkind compliment Bob and his bright beak.
You might think here that this isn’t something to teach kids—that we need to change ourselves to suit others—but I don’t see this as the book’s message. Bob gains confidence by expressing himself, confidence that shines through, confidence that helps him realise that he’s perfectly perfect with either his regular red beak or his vibrant beak, skinny legs and all.
I particularly love Deuchars’ illustrations, how they sprawl beyond the lines, spill from one page to another, and honour the beauty of modern art, the artist’s mark, their fingerprints, their uniqueness. Our own uniqueness is something to be proud of. And I love Bat, Bob’s constant friend from beginning to end.