“Most pets, you know, are cats and dogs.
Go out and take a look.
But there’s a boy in Smartytown
Whose pet is … a little book!”
And so begins the unforgettable story about a boy and his unusual pet by the deliciously, diabolically clever Bob Staake.
An American illustrator, cartoonist, children’s book author, and designer, Staake has risen to the top of his field crafting edgy art that amazes his many admirers. In fact, School Library Journal said that he creates “a fun, dynamic world reminiscent of Dr. Seuss.”
Take, for instance, “My Pet Book.”
In addition to being a terrific PR and marketing tool for the book industry—one reviewer called it “a love-letter to books” —this colorful page-turner is perfect for tots, teens, and everyone in between. It anthropomorphizes a bright red book, which “never ate, never drank, and couldn’t do a trick. it never shed. It had no fleas. It couldn’t fetch a stick.”
Staake’s story compels us to suspend disbelief about books as inanimate objects and tells a tale that makes us feel love, loss, and ultimately, the power of friendship.
It’s no surprise that Staake is popular.
In addition to writing more than 60 books, his illustrations have appeared in The New Yorker, TIME, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, MAD magazine, and Vanity Fair.
From his studio in Chatham, Mass., on the elbow of Cape Cod, he has also caught the attention of international organizations including Intel, which featured him in a recent commercial.
When you look at his art, and get a taste of his slightly acerbic—very grownup—wit, it’s hard to believe that Staake makes a good portion of his living writing children’s books.
Indeed, our Inkandescent art director Michael Gibbs recently met Staake at the 2014 National Book Festival in Washington, DC. He asked him about the contradiction, and Staake said: “I know, I can’t believe it, either.”
But when it comes to crafting works of art as books, he simply asserts, “They are what I do.”
And oh, he does them so well. Titles include “Hello, Robots” (Viking), “The Red Lemon” (Random House), “I’m a Truck” (Little Golden Books) and “Pets Go Pop” (Little, Brown).
These award-winning books range from the goofy and silly to the thought-provoking and mysterious. In words and pictures, Staake entertains young readers while making them wonder, question, and think. And his books are clever enough that adults don’t mind when their children clamor to have the same one read to them again and again.
“Reading: It’s crucial to a child’s mental, aesthetic, and educational development,” Staake believes.
If you haven’t read a Bob Staake book, see what you’ve been missing at bobstaake.com