Eileen and Marc Rosenthal to Read I’ll Save You Bobo!
When her son was a small boy—he’s now 25—Lenox-based picture book author Eileen Rosenthal constantly made up stories to tell him. It’s no surprise, then, that this former book designer and ardent picture book fan went a step further with Willy—the fictional child in her delightful tales about a boy and his sock monkey, Bobo. And she found a willing and able collaborator close by – under her own roof.
In 2011, Simon & Schuster published I Must Have Bobo!, by Eileen Rosenthal, with illustrations by her husband Marc Rosenthal. The book charmed children and parents with its whimsical portrayal of the contest between Willy and his nemesis, Earl the cat, over Bobo. The Rosenthals followed up with this year’s sequel, I’ll Save You Bobo!, and Marc is currently finishing up illustrations for the third book of the series.
Eileen explains how the couple began to collaborate on the Bobo books: “We both work at home, where we each inhabit different spots in the house. We schedule coffee shop dates twice a week to go over workaday matters. That way, work doesn’t spill over into the evening.” During one such date, Eileen told Marc about the characters she was mulling, Willy and Bobo. “As I told him the story, he started doodling. He nailed Bobo right away.” Earl the cat came next.
The initial Bobo story was “play,” Eileen says. “We edited the story on our coffee breaks together and Marc put a little dummy together and took it along to a meeting with his publisher in New York. He also showed it to his agent, which turned out to be a smart move.” Marc adds, “My editor at Harper [publisher of Marc’s previous children’s book, Archie and the Pirates] really liked it. But it ended up in a bidding war and Simon & Schuster took it on.”
Their collaboration is fitting; the pair met at work, when Marc was an illustrator in Milton Glaser’s studio. Eileen, then an art student, came to the office as a “gopher” willing to do all the office tasks. The staff saw her potential and encouraged her to pursue graphic design. Meanwhile, Glaser was extremely supportive of Marc’s career and over time, Marc left the studio to do freelance work. His editorial work and illustrations—some featured by the Society of Illustrators, appear regularly in various publications, including The New Yorker. These days, though, he says, “Kids’ books feel like my main direction.”
On Thursday August 23, the Rosenthals will read I’ll Save You Bobo! at the Lenox Library. Marc will be drawing Bobo and there will be an arts and crafts “draw your own book” activity. Eileen made a Bobo doll she brings to readings. “My Bobo doesn’t have a shirt. I love how this provides a leaping off point for kids when they make their own books; they imagine what might have happened to Bobo’s shirt.” — Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser
Thursday, August 23, 11 a.m.
The Lenox Library
18 Main Street, Lenox, Massachusetts