For MMGM, I am recommending Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead, with illustrations by Nicholas Gannon.
Here's the publisher's description:
It’s been five years since Livy and her family have visited Livy’s grandmother in Australia. Now that she’s back, Livy 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 five 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.
If you've read my past posts, you might know that I love both Wendy Mass (see here, here, and here) and Rebecca Stead (see here, here, and here). Therefore, when I first read this article first announcing Bob, I was extremely excited, and the book did not disappoint! One of the best parts of this novel is how Livy and Bob are written. Like characters in the authors' other books, they seem extremely real and have extremely distinct voices; Livy, age 11, can be loving and silly or logical and a bit cynical, while Bob remains immature but kind. The relationship between both characters is strained at times (especially when Livy first returns), but watching them get to know and like each other again is very enjoyable. The book often deals with issues relating to families; Bob has no family that he knows of, while Livy is dealing with both a new baby sister and the fact that, during the trip, she will be staying alone with her grandmother for several days. Getting to see the Australian small town that Livy's grandmother lives in and how it has been affected by a drought is also interesting, as is watching Livy and Bob have fun talking, playing chess, or exploring and trying to figure out who exactly Bob is. Bob's combination of magic, mystery, life in a small town, and the innocent relationship between two friends makes it a touching, enjoyable read that you won't want to put down!
P.S. I don't often mention the design of a book, but Bob's design is so beautiful that I have to! The illustrations by Nicholas Gannon, drawn in brown to match the cover and other accents, are lifelike and help make the story vivid or even provide closure (in the two drawings that end the book, take a close look at what Livy is wearing). The book has a pretty font, which vaguely reminds me of a typewriter, as well as lovely accents (branches surround each page number, while feathers from Bob's chicken suit are scattered throughout the story). The shiny stars and raindrops embedded on the dust jacket are the final proof that Bob is one of the most elegantly designed books I've ever read!