By George O’Connor
Roaring Brook Press
Out of Print
Uncle Bigfoot was George O’Connor’s fourth picture book. He has since gone on to create several graphic novels, including the New York Times best selling Olympians Series about the Greek gods and goddesses of Olympus. I reviewed the first book in the series, Zeus: King of the Gods, here. The sixth book in the series, Aphrodite: Goddess of Love, is due out later this year.
O’Connor’s fifth picture book, If I Had a Raptor, will be published in 2014 followed shortly thereafter by If I Had a Triceratops. O’Connor’s picture books have an irrepressible humor and immense appeal to both kids and adults, which is very important to parents who find themselves coaxed by little ones to read a book again and again.
In Uncle Bigfoot, our spirited narrator, a nameless young boy, is intrigued when he learns his Uncle Bernie is coming to visit. He doesn’t recall ever hearing about this uncle before so he asks his father if there are any photos of this mysterious person. The only picture they find is of Bernie, back to the camera, running away.
‘“Uncle Bernie’s a little shy around cameras,” said Dad.’
The young boy imagines a multitude of scenarios as to why his uncle would not want to be photographed and when his uncle finally arrives, the answer is obvious.
Stupefied, the boy runs to consult his book on Bigfoot. He’s quickly able to confirm all the telltale signs, but each time he tries to convince his parents of his findings they have perfectly reasonable responses, which negate the boy’s pronouncement.
Uncle Bernie is hairy, really hairy, just like Bigfoot. When the determined boy points this out to his father, his response is no comfort, “Just wait until you get older, you’ll be hairier too.”
Uncle Bernie has big feet, just like Bigfoot but Mom tells the persistent boy that lots of people have big feet.
However, the guidebook also says that Bigfoots are mean and scary and Uncle Bernie is neither of those things. He just seems different from the people our inquisitive narrator knows. Maybe Uncle Bernie is just a little more different than most.
Relieved of his suspicions, the boy and his family enjoy a wonderful visit with Uncle Bigfoot. The newly won-over boy confesses that he misses his uncle (he left last Tuesday) but he’s excited about a pending visit from his Aunt Nessie!
O’Connor’s sardonic humor is coupled with cartoon-y illustrations, further highlighting the absurdity of the boy’s suspicions. Visual nods to various mythical creatures and unsolved mysteries—UFO’s, Mothman, aliens, Atlantis, to name a few—will amuse older readers and O’Connor’s knack for depicting expressions adds yet another level of amusement and charm to the art. Uncle Bigfoot is a lighthearted, joyous picture book and an enjoyable read for parents and children alike.
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