________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 16. . . .December 19, 2014


Bob's Hungry Ghost.

Geneviève Côté.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2014.
32 pp., hardcover & ebook, $19.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77049-713-9 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-77049-714-6 (ebook).

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.

Review by Amber Allen.

*** /4



Bob has a ghost.

He really wanted a dog.

Or a cat. Or even a gerbil.

But Bob got a ghost for his birthday, and he called it Fluffy.

The ghost thinks Fluffy is a silly name. But it doesn’t matter what Bob calls him since Fluffy never listens anyway.


Bob wants a pet for his birthday, but, much to his chagrin, instead of the standard dog, cat, or gerbil, he is given a ghost (which he names Fluffy). Right away, Bob and his ghost seem to be a mismatched pair. Fluffy won’t fetch or walk on a leash as Bob would like him to do, and Bob isn’t open to playing hide and seek or anything his ghost would enjoy. As boredom results from being ignored, Fluffy turns to mischief to keep himself entertained and ends up eating everything in the house – including Bob! In the end, with a little research, and willingness to compromise, Bob realizes that having a ghost is wonderful, and together they have a lot of fun.

internal art     Bob’s Hungry Ghost is an imaginative and original story told using a natural prose. There is no need for rhyme or flourish as the story, itself, provides humour and whimsy. It is endearing how “truths” about ghosts are introduced as matter-of-fact because that is the magic of storytelling – it is true in the world Côté has created for Bob and his mischievous pet. Furthermore, the moral of the story is skilfully tied in, clear without being overtly didactic. Put simply, as the story positions it, friendships require cooperation and attention from both parties. Just as Bob should not punish his pet for not behaving as a dog would, Fluffy is wrong to act out (and eat) Bob because he is feeling ignored.

      The artwork is beautiful in its simplicity: mixed media pages awash with bursts of watercolour and contrasting line drawings. For seemingly simple character illustrations, there is a true depth of expression in the faces that reveals emotions only hinted at in the text, and the distinction between the inside of Fluffy’s stomach and the outside is done using light and dark in a wonderful way. All this, and as an added bonus, the book jacket doubles as a poster!


Amber Allen is a librarian in Toronto, ON, with a passion for children’s literature and writing.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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