You may not know it if you’re not a member of the Bobbledy Club, but each time we send out a book, we also send some sort of game or puzzle or activity, something we think up and Robbi draws. Something for kids to DO.
Because reading books is all well and good, but what we want most of all is to inspire kids to go out and make their own stuff, whether it’s stories or drawings or . . . robots.
Last week we sent out Peacock and Duck Save Friendship. Those of you who have read it know that the book contains an evil (but misunderstood) robot overlord. I hope I am not spoiling things to say that, after a passage of misdeeds and an entirely justifiable jail term handed down by none other than the Supreme Court, the evil robot in question is offered a new friend robot (the company of which will, ideally, result in better mood and thus behavior for the evil robot in question).
The book concludes before the new friend Robot is constructed, and so we invited readers to help us figure out what this new friend robot would look like.
Here’s the activity sheet we sent:
And here is Bobbledy club member Suki in the process of making her own robot.
While I am admittedly no expert in robotics, I find myself uncommonly impressed with this one. Look what Suki created with only a few bits and pieces to work with!
If such words as “WOW,” and “OH MAN” and “DIGGITY!” are currently escaping your lips, then you, my friend, are not alone.
Let’s take a closer look at this fine piece of engineering.
The only thing that could possibly make me happier is if Suki were to tell us a bit about this robot and its adventures. If such a thing were to happen, we would almost certainly post it here.
If you’d like to construct your own robot friend, you can download the activity page HERE. And if you were to then send us a photo or scan of your robot, we would almost certainly post it here. Go to it!
Once a year, Robbi and I make a book that’s not complete. I write the first few sentences. She provides a handful of illustrations. We send this not-nearly-finished book out to all the kids in the Bobbledy Club, and wonderful things happen.
Kids write and illustrate books and then send them back to us. After laughing and smiling and sighing contentedly through dozens of submissions, we pick just one winner to professionally publish and send out to the Bobbledy readership. It’s our favorite time of year. So many amazing kid brains kicking into creative overdrive. So much possibility.
This year, we’re mixing it up a bit—and taking it up a notch. Or maybe even two.
First of all, the book itself. Instead of printing it ourselves, we sent it off to be professionally printed this year. Hence the glossy cover. And, instead of putting illustration prompts on all the pages, this year Robbi created a sheet of stickers so that kids can put her illustrations wherever they want to.
The idea is that kids can peel and stick these shiny happy stickers wherever the heck they want to. Ideally, on the pages of the book, but who are we to limit young imaginations? There are also speech bubble stickers, so the peacocks of those Bobbledy Club members who are not old enough to write can say “Whoops!” to their hearts’ content.
Needless to say, the shiny books and shiny stickers got Robbi and me pretty excited, and we’re not even eligible to ender the contest.
Early last week we slid the books into envelopes, wondering what amazing words and pictures kids would use to fill their pages.
This might look to you like a stack of envelopes. But it is actually a great big pile of possibility.
We have it on good authority that kids are already diving in. Here is Sydney, busy at work on her masterpiece.
And here is Bailey, admiring this sticker of a sheriff’s star before placing it into her book.
We’ve been hearing other reports from the Bobbledy frontier: two sisters and a brother embarked in unprecedented triangular collaboration and created a fantastic story. A little girl and her grandfather split writing and illustration duties to create the tale of a lonely turtle. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of copies of Once Upon a Time are out there in the world, being lovingly completed at this very moment.
It’s almost more than I can stand, knowing that I have to wait to read them all.
If you know a kid or sticker-enthusiast adult who would enjoy making a book with us, here you go.
In the early days of Bobbledy, we had a duo of devoted contributors, Spencer and his brother Tyler. They are picture-drawing, story-making fiends, and they shared a lot of their work with us. Spencer, in fact, was the first winner of the Bobbledy Make Your Own Book contest, writing and illustrating the now-classic title Gorillas in the Kitchen.
I recently learned from Spencer’s mom that, once a year, Spencer’s school has a “literacy week,” during which students are encouraged to dress up as their favorite storybook character. For three years running, Spencer has dressed up as Spencer from Gorillas in the Kitchen—sporting the tye-die outfit with matching shirt and shorts that his alter-ego in the book wears throughout his adventures.
But back to the matter at hand. Perhaps struck by a pang of nostalgia, Spencer (now a worldly nine year old) wandered back to the Bobbledy Blog the other day to check in on the current topic. Seeing the Rockets theme, he was inspired to create and submit the following, which we couldn’t be happier to share with you today.
It appears to be a space shuttle attached to a rocket that is assisting its attempts to escape from Earth’s gravity into the wild blue, black, empty wonder beyond. My favorite part of the drawing is the heavy green squiggles with which Spencer so ably captures the furious energy of ascent. Isn’t it interesting how drawings include so many lines that we do not actually see when we look at an actual scene with our actual eyes—but which are so essential to capturing all that our eyes can’t take in—the sound and the vibration and even the smell of a heavy object moving through space.
Spencer is an artist because he knows to include these clues. He knows how to capture that energy.
Thanks for checking in, Spencer, and for sharing your great work with us. We are so glad to see you’re still at it.
As many of you know, the new Bobbledy book has been released and sent out into the world. It is called I Woke Up This Morning And.
If you’re saying to yourself, “It sounds like that title stops in the middle of a sentence, and isn’t that vexing?”, you would have quickly put your finger on the heart of the matter. This book is about a little boy who keeps trying to get to the end of the sentence but who keeps getting interrupted—by a leak in the ceiling, a flood in the living room, a rogue lightning strike, etc.
But the boy is persistent and eventually does finish his sentence. Right before the end of the book. The coincidence of these two things is not accidental.
Here is the cover of the book in question. It is covered with more rubber duckies than you can count. Yes, that was a challenge. If you count them all, let us know. And feel your chest swell with pride.
Here is the poor boy I mentioned in the process of getting flooded out of his living room. Don’t try this at home, kids.
And here is the heart of the storm. Alone on the sea, but for a hapless orange goldfish and cheerful flotilla of rubber duckies, our hero discovers salvation in his darkest, bleakest moment. And isn’t that how it always is? Or should be?
In any case, we wondered if kids would like this book. It seemed a little strange to us, a little unconventional. But we liked it so much that we decided to send it out anyway and see what happened.
Here’s what happened. We got an email from our friend Josh reporting on the reaction of his son Oliver to I Woke Up This Morning And.
Before we read it: “Daddy, I love this book so much I want to read it every day.’
After we read it: “Daddy, I want to love that book so much I want to read it every day and never read any other books.”
Of course, what greater compliment can an author and illustrator seek than to stamp out a child’s desire for any other books?
And then there was the case of Norah, who I happened to meet at a birthday party in Overland Park, Kansas not long ago (yes, the world has grown so flooded with Bobbledy Club members that one runs into them at distant birthday parties).
Norah, as it turns out, had just that morning read I Woke Up This Morning And, and what’s more, she had read it ALL BY HERSELF. This was a rather exciting moment in the history of Norah and in the history of our book. I am so glad that they found one another.
And I am so glad I got to meet you, Norah. Please keep reading.
You too, Oliver. Our books and books by others. Because, as much as we like making books and make quite a few of them, all told, we could never in our whole wide lives make enough to keep your hungry brain well fed.
So read, you guys. I’m talking to all of you now. Read and read and read as you grow. And then keep reading when you think you’ve stopped growing. Because you never stop growing.
Not if you keep reading.
There are at least 347 things I like about kids in the Bobbledy Club. I like that they like books. I like that they ride bicycles. I like that they eat carrot cake occasionally. But one of my very favorite things is that they keep on having birthdays. And that, when they do, they make drawings and send them to us.
The most recent birthday kid is Orin Z. I have it on good authority that he just turned seven. Here is his card, a single-panel allegorical comic detailing the epic adventures of a horse named Max.
The tree on the left hand side of Orin’s drawing is most certainly the Tree of Life. Max (a young horse, just getting started in the world, as evidenced by the glee-laced exuberance with which he is leaping literally over the rainbow) is making his way to the Purple and Orange Palace of Destiny, as pictured on the right hand side. The place is a place of great danger, but also great opportunity. It is here where Max will face challenges and meet them, growing from an optimistic young colt to a wise and worldly stallion who prefers to go by his given name, Maximilian.
There is also an astonishing amount of ice cream in the palace. And a roller coaster.
Thank you, Orin, for sharing your wonderful drawing with us!
And a very happy birthday from all of us here in Bobbledy land!
Alright folks – I just got this drawing in my inbox from Iris, and it was so perfect for last month’s Under the Sea theme that I felt I just had to post it.
Have you ever wondered how to draw a dolphin? I have. In fact, I was going to draw a dolphin earlier in the month and I just couldn’t figure it out. If only Iris had sent this sooner! Here is her step-by-step guide on how to draw a dolphin:
Iris did want me to share that her teacher Ms. Stuckey helped her out with the instructions. And I must say, I think the instructions really help! What a great dolphin it is!!
Thanks, Iris! I’m going to add this to my resource library for how to draw things. You and Ed Emberley and Lee J. Ames are my masters of instruction. And stay tuned for the announcement of June’s Theme of the Month!