Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Big Bob, Little Bob

Rate this book
It’s not easy to become friends with someone who is nothing like you—but surprising things can happen when you give it a try.

Despite the fact that they share a name, Big Bob and Little Bob are different. Big Bob likes trucks and throwing balls and being loud. Little Bob likes dolls and jingling bracelets and being quiet. No matter what they do, they do not do it the same. Could they possibly be friends despite these differences? With humor and tenderness, James Howe and Laura Ellen Anderson beautifully depict the struggles and rewards that come when friendships are forged between different kinds of people.

32 pages, Hardcover

First published October 11, 2016

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

James Howe

190 books428 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

James Howe has written more than eighty books in the thirty-plus years he's been writing for young readers. It sometimes confuses people that the author of the humorous Bunnicula series also wrote the dark young adult novel, The Watcher, or such beginning reader series as Pinky and Rex and the E.B. White Read Aloud Award-winning Houndsley and Catina and its sequels. But from the beginning of his career (which came about somewhat by accident after asking himself what kind of vampire a rabbit might make), he has been most interested in letting his imagination take him in whatever direction it cared to. So far, his imagination has led him to picture books, such as I Wish I Were a Butterfly and Brontorina (about a dinosaur who dreams of being a ballerina), mysteries, poetry (in the upcoming Addie on the Inside), and fiction that deals with issues that matter deeply to him. He is especially proud of The Misfits, which inspired national No Name-Calling Week (www.nonamecallingweek.org) and its sequel Totally Joe. He does not know where his imagination will take him in the next thirty-plus years, but he is looking forward to finding out.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
83 (23%)
4 stars
132 (38%)
3 stars
108 (31%)
2 stars
19 (5%)
1 star
4 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 91 reviews
Profile Image for Calista.
3,885 reviews31.2k followers
July 9, 2018
This book focuses on Gender Roles and norms. Big Bob and Little Bob have the same names, but they are very different. They have to learn how to get along. Then a girl moves in and they have to learn to get along too. Basically, you can play with dolls if you like dolls and you don't have too if you don't like dolls, it does not matter if you are a boy or a girl. This is one of the last things James has published I think.

The story is short and sweet with a great little message. I wish there had been more stuff like this in the 80s - there was not. Gender roles were pretty solid back then from media.

The nephew enjoyed this book. He gave it 5 stars. The niece didn't read it. The nephew like Big Bob's way of always knocking down things in the book like a block fort. He laughed.

The art is wonderful. I love the art work. I will keep my eye on Laura.
Profile Image for Mehsi.
11.9k reviews361 followers
November 18, 2016
As soon as I saw that Laura Ellen Anderson was illustrating a new book I knew I had to have it!

She just draws such pretty things, and I love her art style so much. <3

But the book also has a wonderful message, and a cute story. About 2 boys, very different, finding out that one can still be best friends even if they don't like the same things. Of course, it does take the addition of an extra character to have this confirmed. :P

At first I wasn't that big of a fan of Big Bob, but I did see he was trying to involve Little Bob with his games. He tried to race him on the swings, he tried to have him catch a ball, and several other things. It was really sweet of him to do that.

Little Bob was very cute, and I loved how he just stuck to doing what he wanted to do. Often boys who play with dolls, or like wearing clothes, change after someone tells them it is not normal. But not Little Bob, oh no, he just goes on with being himself.

I know the book said they would be different, but it was so much fun that they were exact opposites.
Cats and Dogs. Dress up and Playing in the mud. Big and Small. Muddy and Neat.

Maybe what I would love to see was that the roles were reversed. Tough Big Bob playing with dolls, and Little Bob playing with the cars and doing all the rougher things. Now it felt a bit like the standard I always see in books.

The ending was really fun, and also really cute. Go Big Bob, tell her! I was happy with how it all ended, and I am sure these friends will stay friends for a long long time.

I definitely loved this book, and I will re-read it one day again.

Review first posted at https://twirlingbookprincess.com
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,116 reviews186 followers
October 28, 2019
When Big Bob moves in next door, Little Bob isn't sure that this is a good thing. Other than their name, the two boys seems to have nothing in common. Big Bob likes trucks and playing sports, whereas Little Bob likes dolls, reading, and occasionally wearing girls' clothing. But although they have trouble finding a workable play dynamic at first, friendship does develop, especially when a new girl moves into the neighborhood and tells Little Bob that boys aren't meant to be playing with dolls.

Apparently inspired by author James Howe's own boyhood love of dolls - his dedication to his parents includes a youthful photograph of himself cradling a doll - Big Bob, Little Bob explores gender fluidity in younger children, offering a positive message of acceptance. Some boys play with dolls, and prefer reading to playing ball, just as some girls - like Blossom, in the story - prefer trucks to dolls. In the end, all three children find a way to play together, emphasizing that whatever their differences, all children enjoy imaginative games. The artwork, created digitally by Laura Ellen Anderson, is colorful and appealing, adding to the fun of the story. Recommended to anyone looking for stories featuring children who enjoy activities less common for their gender, and how children with different interests might become friends.
Profile Image for Amanda.
3,658 reviews30 followers
February 27, 2017
People are falling all over themselves to love this book because of the "innovative gender roles," but they seem very stereotyped and quite cliched to me. (If I was a LGBTQ person, I would not be happy with this book. It doesn't break any new ground, and it is rather pedantic.) The best thing it has going for it are the illustrations.

So now, girls can do whatever they want now (even if they are given a really girly name in a book just for irony). And yes, now boys can do whatever they want, even if it means being a girl. I think by now we've all got this new politically correct message jammed so far down our throats that our toes are hurting.

Today I think I will be a teapot, short and stout, because hey, I can be whatever I want to be and whatever I identify as. Tomorrow, I may be a rainbow magic unicorn. Because, hey, why not? Or maybe I'm a Romanov! Maybe I'm a dryad! (Maybe I'm a person, who thinks this has gone a bit too far and everyone needs to calm down....)
Profile Image for Theresa Worona.
45 reviews
March 11, 2018
i loved the vast differences between Big Bob and Little Bob! it made the story much more enjoyable and twisted the traditional side of the story where the main characters are usually similar in characteristics. i liked how the gender rules for play are non existent and show the reader that anyone can play whatever they want to play and not be ashamed or embarrassed of it. o thought that this was important because so many kids nowadays are afraid to be expressive and this book breaks that barrier. i loved the content of this book
Profile Image for Chelsea Couillard-Smith.
604 reviews10 followers
October 5, 2016
A sweet story about gender roles with a positive message. Charming illustrations that really lift the book above a serviceable text, and a message that feels a bit heavy-handed. A suitable contemporary substitute for WILLIAM'S DOLL, but I'd still go back to that gorgeous classic first. Still, this has a lot going for it and should feel a need for stories that directly address what boys and girls "do" and "don't" do.
5,100 reviews71 followers
December 2, 2016
When Big Bob moves in next door, Little Bob's mother thinks he would make a good friend. However, Little Bob isn't so sure - they don't like to do the same things. However, when Blossom moves into the neighborhood, Big Bob defends him saying "Boys can do whatever they want!" Everything works out because "Girls can do whatever they want, too."

A little obvious, but needed.
677 reviews
October 28, 2016
I like this book more than I thought I would. It's a great picture book about gender stereotypes without being too didactic or preachy. In fact, the examples are concrete and realistic so that all kinds of kids will be able to relate to the different characters and their emotions. Well done!
Profile Image for AJ.
132 reviews2 followers
December 26, 2016
Cute!! It's really just about kids being kids, and liking the toys and colors and fun things that they enjoy without worrying about the rules that adults have set down to determine how "real" boys or girls play and act.
Profile Image for Elaine.
820 reviews14 followers
October 13, 2016
Very sweet story, displaying acceptance, inclusion, and that it's okay to be different!
Profile Image for Amanda Brooke.
924 reviews6 followers
July 3, 2018
It's nice to see a picture book that presents the problem of gender specific play. How should children deal with meeting children who have preferences that differ from their norm? This might be a great writing prompt. Students can answer the question, has anyone told you that you cannot play? Why?
Profile Image for Tasha.
4,117 reviews104 followers
December 15, 2016
When Big Bob moves in next door, Little Bob’s mother is happy that he will have a friend so close by. But the two boys are very different in more than just their size. Big Bob likes to roughhouse, play sports, and zoom trucks around. Little Bob likes to spend time quietly reading, play with dolls, and sometimes wears girl clothes. Big Bob teases him for a lot of these things until a new girl moves into the neighborhood and tells Little Bob that boys don’t play with dolls. Big Bob stands up to her and soon the three of them are playing in whatever way they like best, because both girls and boys can play with whatever they choose.

While the message here can get a little heavy handed at the end, this is an important book. It shows that gender norms are a spectrum, that boys who play with dolls don’t have to be given any additional labels unless they identify in a different way. It also embraces that girls too sometimes prefer playing games or choosing toys that are traditionally masculine. There is a broad acceptance here with children being given the space and time to realize that they were viewing the world through a limiting lens.

Anderson’s illustrations are playful and bright. The neighborhood is quirky and welcoming with plenty of place to play separately and together. The use of wild colors adds to the appeal with trees of tangerine and lemon/lime and garlands of flowers and hearts dangling from them.

A book about accepting differences, learning to get along and finding new friends, this picture book is strong pick for library collections. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Profile Image for Stephanie Tournas.
2,081 reviews16 followers
January 25, 2017
Big Bob moves in to the house next to Little Bob, and although they share a name, it is hard to imagine two kids more different. Little Bob likes playing with dolls, dressing up and quiet reading. Big Bob likes football, fire trucks and superheroes. The two boys play side by side, but separately. When a girl moves into the neighborhood, she challenges Little Bob on his choices and Big Bob comes to his defense. The new girl, Blossom, admits that she prefers trucks to dolls herself, and the kids become friends. The tension that the reader may feel in wondering what will happen to the relationship between the children is quickly resolved in the back and forth dialogue between them. Children, when left to themselves, can often resolve their differences with no trouble. I love that we see that happening in this story about gender roles. The pleasing digital illustrations are full of fun details - the toys the kids play with, the flowers in Little Bob's hair, the dog and cat neighbors that become friends along with their owners. A fine addition to the growing number of titles on gender expression for children.
February 15, 2017
This book is about 2 little boys named Bob. Little Bob is a little bit different and likes to do more feminine things like dress up and playing with dolls, while big Bob likes boy things like sports and playing with trucks. It is hard for them to play together. One day a new girl moves in and calls little Bob out for playing with girl toys. Big Bob steps in and defends little Bob, telling her that he can play however he wants. They then invite the girl to play too and tell her she can also play however she wants. The major theme of this story is accepting diversity. Although big Bob and little Bob are very different and like different things, they can still respect each other and be friends. I would give this book 5 stars. I loved this book. It was such a cute story and I loved seeing Big Bob stick up for little Bob in the end. I had originally thought he would be a bully in the story. I would recommend this book because especially in todays world there is so much diversity and sets a great example for how kids can accept and respect each other's differences and stand up for others.
Profile Image for Emily A.
21 reviews
May 24, 2018
This is a story about two boys named Bob, Little Bob is Gender-noncomforming or gender variant. Little Bob does not like to do the same activties as Big Bob. He would prefer to play with dolls rather than catch. When a new girl moves the the block, she questions Little Bob's choice in activities. Big Bob stands up for him and they realize that they can all play together.
Profile Image for Esther Westfall.
51 reviews
October 4, 2017
This is a wonderful book because it makes the issue of gender specific play a complete nonissue. While the boys don't initially play together because they don't think that they have anything in common, it ends up not being an issue in the end. As we were reading the story, my boys took turns pointing out the specific toys that each of the children played with, and at the end we talked about how it didn't matter if it was a "girl toy" or a "boy toy" as long as you had fun playing with it. I always preferred playing with boy toys to dolls myself, so it seems a little strange to me that gendered toys are still an issue. But I'm glad that there are books like this out there to help enlighten others. I would definitely recommend this to everyone!
Profile Image for Bob.
88 reviews10 followers
February 11, 2017
How would you feel if they abused YOUR good name in a stupidly pedantic, Politically Correct hack job with Hallmark-Card-quality illustrations cynically designed to fill a market niche? LGBT kids deserve better than this! Pretty sure this book insults the native intelligence of all kids.

Bobs of the world could file a class-action suit for Defamation of Character. The "Bob"s represented in this cheesy product fail even as 2-dimensional characters. They are stick figures representing a pedagogic Lesson Plan. Supporting this kind of crap is a disservice to Real kids with gender issues and Real stories waiting to be shared.
Profile Image for Sisi.
25 reviews
May 31, 2017
This book is about two boys, both named Bob. However, one of them is bigger (taller) than the other, so they're called Big Bob and Little Bob. The two Bobs have their names in common but they do not like any of the same things. Big Bob likes to play with fire trucks and things like that. Little Bob likes to dress up and play with dolls. One day, a girl moves in who likes to play with trucks more than dolls. The three of them decide that they can play with whatever they like and it is okay. The three of them become friends and play together. The theme of the book is acceptance. It is made apparent by the quotes "boys can do whatever they want" and "girls can do whatever they want, too."
Profile Image for Juliana Lee.
2,236 reviews33 followers
February 6, 2017
Big Bob and Little Bob couldn't be any more different. Except for their names they seem to have nothing else in common. One likes trucks, the other dolls. One likes noisy games, the other quiet games. But when Blossom moves in the neighborhood and tells Little Bob that boys don't play with dolls, Big Bob comes to his defense and says that boys can do anything they want. The boys invite Blossom to play with them. Blossom wants to play with the trucks, because girls can do anything they want too. Soon all three children are playing together.
38 reviews1 follower
March 17, 2018
This is a good book that shows that although people are different, they can still get along well. Big Bob like loud trucks and basketball. Little Bob likes playing school and dressing in girls' clothes with jingly bracelets. Then Blossom moves into the neighborhood. She doesn't think that Little Bob should be playing with dolls, but Big Bob defends him and says boys can do whatever they want to do. The boys learn that Blossom would rather play with trucks than dolls, so they say girls can do whatever they want to do, also. They become good friends despite their differences.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Marissa Dunbar.
44 reviews
March 13, 2018
I LOVE the illustrations in this book, they are colorful and lively. The boys in this story have some differences in interests and things they like and are trying to be friends with each other. A girl questioned little Bob on why he was playing with girl’s toys, Big Bob defended him and in the end, Bob, Bob and the girl Blossom all became friends. I love the message of accepting others no matter their differences and standing up for your friends as well as saying a boy can play with dolls and a girl can play with trucks and not putting labels on things.
Profile Image for Jana.
2,591 reviews37 followers
November 12, 2016
This is a nice picture book to share with kids, as it has a great theme of acceptance of differences. Big Bob moves in next door to Little Bob, and it's clear from the beginning that these two children are very different from each other. They look different and they enjoy different activities and they have very different personalities. But when another new neighbor moves in, they realize that their differences are all right.
233 reviews2 followers
December 12, 2016
Can a new friendship between a boy who likes rough-housing and a boy who prefers dolls survive and develop? Read on and discover!
Big Bob likes playing rough and loud noises while Little Bob prefers quiet play and dolls. When Little Bob moves in next-door to Big Bob, their new friendship conflicts at first until they realize that no matter your preferences, friendship can develop and grow.
Profile Image for Elwyn.
Author 2 books4 followers
August 18, 2017
I got really excited and thought Little Bob was going to be a non-binary protagonist, as page two says "To Little Bob, their name was the only thing about them that was the same". Unfortunately this was not the case, but the book was against gender stereotypes and the illustrations were fun. As for the flow and writing, I felt it could use a bit more oomph, but still had a clear plot that was half told through the pictures.
Profile Image for Robin.
326 reviews
December 27, 2016
This book was really subtle and well-told. I loved that it felt like a story and not a message. I thought the writing and illustrations were superb, and that it was able to talk about something important and not often talked about in ANY literature (but especially children's lit) in a way that isn't too message-y or preachy.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 91 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.