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The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate – Book Review

Title: The One and Only Bob

Author: Katherine Applegate

Publisher: HarperCollins

Release Date: May 5, 2020

Rating: 4 STARS

Bob is back. After living for several years at the Big Top Mall, George and Julia adopted Bob and took him home. Now, Bob regales readers with his story of abandonment, loss, friendship, adventure, and so much more. Bob begins his story by threading details about his past in with the present. Then, when he visits Ivan and Ruby at the zoo, a dangerous storm thrusts Bob into a new role: a hero. With plenty of laughs and tears alongside breathtaking moments and surprises, Bob proves once again just how unique and special he is.

After being introduced to Bob in The One and Only Ivan, author Katherine Applegate has continued Bob’s story in The One and Only Bob. Applegate’s writing is superb. The descriptive prose, imaginative figurative language, and vibrant imagery create a truly sensory reading experience. It all helps the reader feels as though they are a true companion to Bob standing aside him as he recounts his trials and tribulations. Although some readers may tire of Bob’s lengthy introduction and commentary about life as a dog, this exposition initiates his transformation to come because it allows him to begin processing the traumas of his past. Closer examination of this portion of the novel as presented through Bob’s perspective ultimately reveals many larger truths about humans and the natural world. Like with him and the novel as a whole, one must be willing to take that deeper look. Meanwhile, other portions of the novel are action-packed. They set a feverish pace, and Applegate proves, once again, her versatility as a writer. After Bob’s heroics save the day, the ending is at once messy and hopeful, creating a realistic finale to a heartwarming tale.

Just as The One and Only Ivan garnered countless fans, young and old alike, readers will love The One and Only Bob. The novel could possibly stand alone in classroom applications; however, deep analysis of certain aspects of the book would require the context provided in the first story. Still, The One and Only Bob could serve as a fantastic summer reading and project, early finisher work, or a fun read aloud.

Classroom Applications

  • Read Aloud – Read the novel aloud in class as part of direct instruction or a novel study.
  • Literature Circles – Use novel for small groups or choice reading with a variety of books that incorporate animal rights.
  • Book Club or Book Exchange – Share the novel with students that enjoy reading about animals.

Nonfiction Connections: The list below outlines topics that will enrich your students’ understanding of the novel.

  • Animals
  • Dogs
  • Animal Rights
  • Animal Shelters
  • Zoos

Book Companions: The following are great books to pair with The One and Only Bob. In parenthesis are the specific aspects students could explore when synthesizing across the texts.

  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (Character Connections, Themes, Plot Structure, Nonfiction Connections)
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (Character Connections, Themes, Nonfiction Connections)
  • Pax by Sara Pennypacker and Illustrator Jon Klassen (Character Connections, Themes)

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