Taking on Bob Cat the bully
Stanley Meets Bob Cat The Bully, By Jo Guy, Illustrations by Paul Cornwell, $20.
Stanley the cat is back for his second adventure, although perhaps that's the wrong word.
The prankster of Jo Guy's first children's book is now, along with his friends from West Junction School, Lorenzo and Clementine, having a tough time.
Like many human children, the feline trio are getting bullied – by the mean and nasty Bob Cat.
As with the first book, Paul Cornwell's superb colour illustrations bring the characters and the storyline to life, such as when his snarling Bob Cat stares down a daunted looking Stanley, who has fearful beads of sweet falling from his brow.
Also like the first book, Guy's storytelling contains a lesson, this time about bullying and what to do about it. Again, her witty and concise writing does this without pushing the message in a finger-wagging way.
Aimed at younger primary school children, the quick-moving story includes wonderful gentle humour, not to take away from the situation, but as an effective storytelling device.
Clementine's Aunty Violet, a trusted adult who helps out the bullied younger cats, is all bright colours and good ideas. She treats the children to snacks – cat meat smoothies and sardine nuggets – while they formulate a plan.
Aunty Violet only comes in halfway through the story, but is a standout character.
Guy says her story is inspired by meeting many children experiencing bullying. Through developing memorable and likeable characters, Guy has found an effective formula to convey life lessons.
Obviously, it's aimed at youngsters, but readers of any age will find something to enjoy and think about.
Guy is mastering the difficult art of children's writing, where fulsome plots must be developed fast. Let's hope she has more stories and characters in mind.