Friday, September 26, 2008

Two Bobbies

As a native to the New Orleans area, I've read many books on Hurricane Katrina. I'm noticing that there's been a slight but noticeable uptick in the number of children's/young adult books published about the devastating 2005 hurricane. Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival is one that you will not soon forget.

Out of the many stories that came out of the storm, the plight of the dogs and cats in the aftermath of the storm was one that played out over and over again in the newspapers and on television. The two Bobbies were just two of the animals. Left behind in the storm, the two Bobbies (Bobbi the dog and Bob Cat) ran away from their homes and roamed the oily, debris-filled streets. Danger came in the way of mean dogs and near starvation. To their luck, they wandered onto a construction site in January (the storm hit at the very end of August). When they were taken to a temporary animal shelter, Bobbi growled whenever someone tried to remove Bob Cat, and both animals howled and paced when they were separated. Realizing that the animals had been through enough, they sheltered the dog and the cat together.

Now, most people know that some dogs and cats can learn to tolerate each other, but the bond between Bobbi and Bob Cat was/is very strong and unique. A chance examination of Bob Cat reveals the truth behind Bob Cat's dependency upon Bobbi. The two friends are featured on CNN anchor Anderson Cooper's show, which elicits thousands of adoption requests. Luckily, the two Bobbies eventually find their new forever home.

Kirby Larson (author of the Newbery Honor book Hattie Big Sky)and Mary Nethery (a picture book author) wrote the book together. It's a thoughtfully written story that conveys the seriousness of the situation without frightening children. Jean Cassels's illustrations are remarkable. As a native to the area, I appreciated the care and enormous detail this New Orleanian took with the illustrations, from the whimsical (Bobbi and Bob Cat's house has a fleur-de-lis sofa cushion; the fleur-de-lis is the symbol of the New Orleans Saints) to the sobering (downed trees, debris everywhere, blue tarp on roofs, and the red code markings on houses that indicated that searchers had visited and any human or animal deceased found inside). Two Bobbies is a sad but lovely read (and read aloud) about two phenomenal animals faced with overwhelming crises and an unusual friendship.

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