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It’s been five years since Livy and her family have visited Livy’s grandmother in Australia. Now that Livy’s back, she has the feeling she’s forgotten something really, really important about Gran’s house. It turns out she’s right. Bob, a short, greenish creature dressed in a chicken suit, didn’t forget Livy, or her promise. He’s been waiting five years for her to come back, hiding in a closet like she told him to. He can’t remember who—or what—he is, where he came from, or if he even has a family. But fi ve years ago Livy promised she would help him find his way back home. Now it’s time to keep that promise. Clue by clue, Livy and Bob will unravel the mystery of where Bob comes from, and discover the kind of magic that lasts forever. Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead, two masterminds of classic middle-grade fiction, come together to craft this magical story about the enduring power of friendship.
Here are a few questions to help begin a discussion:
1. When the book begins, Livy is on her way to Gran Nicholas’s house. Livy describes the journey she takes from her home to her Gran’s house (a drive from Massachusetts to New York, a bus to the airport, a plane to California, etc.). Have you ever had to take a long journey to visit a relative? What was it like when you went to visit them? What type of things did you do for fun?
2. When Livy first discovers Bob in the closet, where she left him years ago, what reason or reasons does he give for staying in the closet?
3. As Livy describes Bob, did you believe he could be a zombie in a chicken suit? What did you think he was, and how did you think he got there?
4. Bob describes how he feels when Livy first says his name—it makes him feel seen and heard, like a person. How important is it for others to acknowledge us and our feelings?
5. At one point Livy believes Bob is an invisible friend. Have you ever had an invisible, or imaginary, friend? If so, does that friend still exist, and what are some things that you can share about him or her?
6. Bob often mentions things Livy did in the past, referring to her as the old Livy. Based on Bob’s description, what differences do you notice in Livy’s traits then and now?
7. What is in the time capsule that Bob and Livy uncover, and how does it help them find out about the past? Have you or has anyone you know ever created and buried a time capsule?
8. Name some of the most significant challenges that Livy and Bob face as they search for Bob’s home. Do you think they handle these obstacles in the best way?
9. How would you describe Livy and Bob’s friendship? What do you think they learn about themselves and each other by being friends? After reading this book, have you learned anything about any of the friendships in your life?
10. How would you summarize the story of Bob? What did you enjoy most or least about the book?
Below are a few questions to help you get started:
• Bob is a mysterious creature: What are some of the mysteries that are uncovered about Bob and the town as the story progresses?
• Fairy tales, fables, and folklore: Can you name the book that Bob’s story appears in? How do fairy tales, fables, and folklore play a part in the story? How important are they in our everyday life? Name some of your favorites.
• Magic pops up throughout the story, especially with Livy and everyone else forgetting about Bob as soon as they leave his presence. What other ways do we see Bob’s magic in the story? How important is magic in the book?
• The power of friendship is a central subject in this novel. Other than the one between Livy and Bob, what other friendships did you notice in the book?
• Australia vs. America: There are some differences between both places mentioned in the novel, including words used, such as bush and brekkie. Name some of the other differences mentioned in the story.
• City life vs. farm life: What are some characteristics of Gran Nicholas’s home life and some of the other members of the town, including Sarah’s family, and how do those characteristics compare to attributes of where Livy comes from in the city?
• Climate plays a vital role in some for the issues that the community is facing. What is the significance of the well in the story? What happens in the book that causes Bob and Livy to go in search of the well?
• Sibling relationships are mentioned throughout the novel, first with Livy and Beth Ann, then with Sarah and Danny, and later we learn that Bob has sisters of his own. How would you describe some of the sibling relationships in the book? How do the siblings interact with each other?
• There are several essential mother-and-child relationships in the book: Gran Nicholas and Livy’s mom, Livy and her mom, Sarah and her mother, etc. Much later in the book, we learn that Bob’s mom continued to search for him, even after all those years. Discuss the differences and similarities between these relationships, and discuss the role mothers play in the story.
Wendy Mass is the New York Times–bestselling author of the Candymakers series and many other novels for young readers, including the Schneider Family Book Award–winner A Mango-Shaped Space; Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life; Every Soul a Star; the Space Taxi series; the Twice Upon a Time series; and the Willow Falls series, which began with 11 Birthdays. She’s currently working on her next book while building a labyrinth with her family. Not at the same time, of course. That’d be weird. Discover more about Wendy and her books at wendymass.com
Rebecca Stead is the New York Times–bestselling author of When You Reach Me, winner of the Newbery Medal; Liar & Spy; First Light; and Goodbye Stranger. Her work has received the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Fiction and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award. She lives in New York City with her family and their lazy but beautiful cat. Discover more about Rebecca and her books at rebeccasteadbooks.com