Bolivar
What would you do if your neighbor was a dinosaur?Going extinct isn't for everyone. Sybil knows that there is something off about her next door neighbor, but she can't seem to get anyone to believe her. Everyone is so busy going about their days in the busy streets of New York City that they don't notice Bolivar. They don't notice his odd height, his tiny arms, or his long tail. No one but Sybil sees that Bolivar is a dinosaur. When an unlikely parking ticket pulls Bolivar into an adventure from City Hall to New York’s Natural History Museum, he must finally make a choice: continue to live unnoticed, or let the city see who he really is.School Library Journal says... "Bolivar the dinosaur speaks to the introvert in all of us. That part deep down inside that encourages us to hide away from the world, keep to ourselves, and avoid any and all connections for fear of getting hurt. Dinosaurs may not be around anymore but Bolivars abound. Even little Bolivars who will pick up this book and instantly connect with someone just like them. So for the Bolivars and the Manhattan-lovers, the graphic novel enthusiasts and the parents just looking for a good bedtime story, Bolivar the book is the place to go. Dino-mite stuff."

Bolivar Details

TitleBolivar
Author
ReleaseNov 28th, 2017
PublisherArchaia
ISBN-139781684150694
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Graphic Novels, Childrens, Picture Books, Middle Grade

Bolivar Review

  • Betsy
    January 1, 1970
    It took a year and a half for me to notice, but by then it was too late.I moved to the Chicago area from New York City in what can only be described as a fairly seamless transition. Going from one large metropolitan area to another large metropolitan area, albeit one with suburbs, didn't prove to be a huge a shock to the system. Job in place? Check. Car acquired? Check. House purchased? Check. Yup. Seemed I had everything sewed up in a neat little bow. And it wasn’t until much later that I learn It took a year and a half for me to notice, but by then it was too late.I moved to the Chicago area from New York City in what can only be described as a fairly seamless transition. Going from one large metropolitan area to another large metropolitan area, albeit one with suburbs, didn't prove to be a huge a shock to the system. Job in place? Check. Car acquired? Check. House purchased? Check. Yup. Seemed I had everything sewed up in a neat little bow. And it wasn’t until much later that I learned a shocking fact about my new home. I was at work one day when out of the blue I asked my colleagues, all innocence, “Hey, guys? What’s the big famous children’s book character based in Chicago?” Their silence sliced through my heart. In NYC you just don’t know how lucky you are. There’s Eloise in her Plaza, Peter and Willie in Prospect Park, and any number of books being churned out every single year as little paeans to the city that never sleeps. I never thought of it as an exclusive right. I mean, Paris has Madeline, doesn’t it? But soon enough it became clear that for all its charms, most major cities in America lack that most basic and unassailable right: The right to have some famous children’s books set in your town. You might think then that when Bolivar passed under my nose I sneered at it. That I found it yet another Manhattan love letter like so many that had come before. Well, I tried, I really did, but that lasted all of two pages. Instead I was sucked into a book that loves New York City so well that it can accurately depict the view of Zabar’s from the subway. So move over, Lyle Lyle Crocodile and your East 88th Street digs. Looks like there’s a new reptile in town, and his apartment on West 78th Street may well eclipse everyone who came before. Manhattan loves a dinosaur.If you were a dinosaur, where would you choose to live? You might think somewhere remote, far from the crush of humanity. But what if you were a big time fan of museums, bookstores, music, and The New Yorker? What if you really liked people, and didn’t want to eat them? New York City might be the right place for you. The crazy thing is that in a place like Manhattan (specifically the Upper West Side) Bolivar the dinosaur lives in complete and perfect peace. Why? Because everyone in the city is too busy to see what’s right in front of their noses. Everyone, that is, except for a kid named Sybil. Like the oracle that shares her name, no one believes Sybil when she says that a real live dinosaur lives next to her apartment. Trying to photograph him is a bust. Stalking doesn’t help. It really isn’t until there’s a mix-up in the Mayor’s office that Bolivar appears in the spotlight and finds himself relying on someone else. Someone who was right under his nose all the time. It seems that failing to notice the extraordinary is not a uniquely human trait.Part of what makes this book so interesting is that upon picking it up you’re not exactly sure what it is. What we have here is a strange kind of graphic novel/picture book/bedtime novel hybrid. The publisher is Archaia, known for their comics, and indeed there are a enough speech balloons to indicate that’s where it should be shelved. But the size of the book, and the narrative text that appears fairly regularly, definitely makes the book feel more like a very long picture book. A 224-page picture book, to be precise. You see the problem. Even as recently as ten years ago, librarians would have been tearing their hair out, desperate to figure out where to catalog this puppy. These days it’s a post-Hugo Cabret world, baby. The blurring of the traditional lines hardly raises an eyebrow anymore. If I was a betting woman, I’d say that since the publisher is Archaia, most libraries and bookstores will shelve Bolivar in the graphic novel / comic book section. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good, because due to the sheer number of picture books published in a given year Bolivar would disappear in a sea of other, mediocre dinosaur tales faster than you can say ARK-EE-OP-TER-RICKS. Graphic novels, in contrast, are few and far between. In a given year, true quality middle grade graphic novels hardly ever surpass the number fifteen. That said, when parents look for bedtime fare (which this book most certainly is) they don’t often head towards the comics. Hopefully the enterprising souls that select this for their libraries and bookstores will also know how to market it properly. It deserves a bit of attention.There’s a moment in one of the books in The Borrowers series (I think it’s The Borrowers Aloft) when Arrietty asks her father why she and her other tiny family members are able to so freely fly in a tiny hot air balloon above people’s heads and not be spotted. Her father answers that big people spend an inordinate amount of time looking down, not paying attention to anything that rests higher than their sightline. It’s funny, but that line has stayed with me for years and years. The idea that you can be so wrapped up in your own head that you miss seeing something marvelous. So no, I didn’t find the idea that Bolivar could essentially walk through the streets of Manhattan, and even go so far as to inadvertently impersonate the mayor, all that far fetched. When I lived in the city I’d plug my earbuds in and shut out a city that tried every day, as hard as it could, to grab my attention. There could easily have been dinosaurs wandering the streets, you bet. Probably more in the Village than the Upper West Side though, eh? Sure hope you’re a fan of cross-hatching because as an art style, Rubin’s a bit fond of it. And yet, as strange as it may sound, the artist I thought of the most while reading this wasn’t Bill Watterson or Maurice Sendak (though they certainly did occur to me from time to time) but rather Mike Curato. The fine attention to detail as it pertains to the streets of New York City may be done in a different style than Curato, but that same level of detail is there. So is the love. The thing about Rubin’s book is that the artist’s sheer palpitating love for NYC virtually emanates off of the page. At any given time I could randomly flip in the book to some detail or moment that felt like the city. *flip* There’s a wisteria vine, unchecked, climbing up a brownstone. *flip* There’s a painting of Peter Stuyvesant, wooden leg and all, in the mayor’s office. *flip* There’s the orange of the 1 train’s seats (and the requisite tourist ducking their head to try and make sense of the subway map). *flip* Heck, there’s even a teeny bowl of pickles on the table in the deli where Bolivar gets his corned beef sandwiches. On a grander scale is the setting itself: New York in the early 21st century. After a while the sheer number of locations begins to add up . . . and yet Rubin isn’t trying to earn points by cramming the best-known places into the tale. The Upper West Side is the primary location, with logical trips to places like Central Park, The Natural History Museum, the aforementioned Zabar’s, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and more. I half hoped that Bolivar would hop the 2 or 3 at 72nd Street and go to the New York Public Library on 42nd and 5th, but soon I discovered another, very practical, reason for keeping the dino close to home. If Sybil is to realistically follow him around, her travels should be restricted to her immediate corner of the city. This begs the obvious question as to why the reader can swallow the fact that there’s a living breathing dinosaur tromping around Manhattan in the broad daylight while the idea of a kid walking the street alone strains credulity, but that’s a topic for another day.Happily, Rubin does a good job of keeping his adult jokes to a minimum. When they do pop up they don’t pull a Shrek and rub the inappropriate reference in your face. It’s much subtler than that. For example I was very taken with the moment when Bolivar forgets himself momentarily and believes that a dinosaur is chasing him along with the crowd of people before him. As he tries to escape he murmurs, “Must go faster . . . must go faster . . .” Jeff Goldblum himself would be impressed. There are visual gags for New Yorkers too. “Papaya Czar” instead of “Papaya King” was one of my own pet favorites. My sole objection to the book pertains to a nonexistent character. There are some unfortunate moments when Sybil’s mom mentions the existence of Sybil’s dad. Unfortunate, I say, because each time this happened it felt distinctly like a holdover from an earlier draft of the book when Sybil even had a father. Sybil’s mom is so clearly a single mother that these lines threw my daughter and I off a bit as we were reading the story and left us uncertain. Was there some negligent father lurking around the corners of the book somewhere? Was the mom in some advanced state of psychosis due to the stress of her job and child and making up a fake husband? Or was it just a typo? You be the judge.If you read the little biography of Sean Rubin in the back of this book you discover that though he was born in Brooklyn and (if an oblique reference in the Acknowledgements is to be believed) lived on the Upper West Side for a time, he now resides in Charlottesville, Virginia. Which means he’s a transplant like myself. This book may have started when inspiration was no farther than just outside his front door, but in the process of its creation it has become an ode to a city long loved and left behind. The thing is, you don’t have to be a New Yorker, or even like NYC, to thoroughly enjoy this book. Bolivar the dinosaur speaks to the introvert in all of us. That part deep down inside that encourages us to hide away from the world, keep to ourselves, and avoid any and all connections for fear of getting hurt. Dinosaurs may not be around anymore but Bolivars abound. Even little Bolivars who will pick up this book and instantly connect with someone just like them. So for the Bolivars and the Manhattan-lovers, the graphic novel enthusiasts and the parents just looking for a good bedtime story, Bolivar the book is the place to go. Dino-mite stuff.For ages 4 and up.
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    Bolivar was such a fun read, even for adults. The story is clever and amusing, and the illustrations are so beautiful and also have little hidden gems. I had the opportunity to purchase a few as gifts during the initial release and look forward to buying others to give out. Bolivar will be a wonderful addition to any kids' book collection!
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  • Lucy Stone
    January 1, 1970
    Bolivar is my favourite kind of "children's book" -- the kind that hides in the category until people discover it's far more than just a kid's picture book. Narratively Bolivar flows through text and image, the story only half-told through text and half-told through art. It's a simple story but a complex one at the same time and so beautifully told you finish reading with a smile and then start flipping back through each page to find all the hidden details in the artwork.The book reads as a trib Bolivar is my favourite kind of "children's book" -- the kind that hides in the category until people discover it's far more than just a kid's picture book. Narratively Bolivar flows through text and image, the story only half-told through text and half-told through art. It's a simple story but a complex one at the same time and so beautifully told you finish reading with a smile and then start flipping back through each page to find all the hidden details in the artwork.The book reads as a tribute to New York, but also a tribute to children and their often uncanny ability to spot things adults overlook. The perfect book for a Christmas or birthday present for any child who isn't quite up to reading longer-form narrative but is too smart to just want a picture book.
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  • Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids
    January 1, 1970
    A entertaining and engaging picture book / comic book readers of all ages. Bolivar is an exciting story about the last dinosaur who just happens to live in NYC. This story is a fun adventure that takes readers through the hustle and bustle of New York City, while getting to know more about Bolivar, and discovering the wonder that's all around us. FULL REVIEW https://mundiekids.blogspot.com/2017/...
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  • Lola Snyder
    January 1, 1970
    Bolivar is a dinosaur living in New York City - a city notorious for anonymity. One little girl knows who and what he is but, determined though she is to get photographic proof, anonymous he will remain. Or will he? Beautifully illustrated - Bolivar has the sweetest face, cleverly written, and compellingly complex, Bolivar should leave you with a smile.
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  • Turrean
    January 1, 1970
    Completely charming. The characters have a Calvin and Hobbes-style look; the protagonist’s mom experiences about the same level of exasperation as Calvin’s mother, too. The NY City scenes are so well done, with so much loving detail; even non-residents will want to pore over the pages.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    This was a very cute, very beautifully-illustrated, emotionally-resonant book. Huge amounts of detail in the pictures! I'm classifying it as a graphic novel at school although it's more like a picture book -- but it's 224 pages long, and has a lot of little clevernesses in it for older readers. My favorite part was the facial expression on the teacher during the first essay-reading scene.
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  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    Advance PDF - Beautiful on every level. Definitely get this book if you have children, and if you don't, get it anyway. It's good for your heart.
  • Aisha
    January 1, 1970
    I've only actually read the preview sample that was given out at BEA this year, but I'm already in love with this book. I don't have any kids, but I know a little girl who would adore this book. And I'll probably buy a copy for myself, I'm honestly so charmed!
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  • Thomas Guarnera
    January 1, 1970
    It’s probably bad form to start reviewing a book as original as Sean Rubin’s BOLIVAR with a cliché. But, cleverly written and lovingly drawn, this really is a book for children of all ages—including their parents.For chronological kids, there’s the title character Bolivar, who’s a very cute, well-mannered dinosaur. The last of his kind (smaller than a T-Rex, bigger than a velociraptor), Bolivar has decided that the best place to live a quiet, unassuming life is…New York City. Why? Because almost It’s probably bad form to start reviewing a book as original as Sean Rubin’s BOLIVAR with a cliché. But, cleverly written and lovingly drawn, this really is a book for children of all ages—including their parents.For chronological kids, there’s the title character Bolivar, who’s a very cute, well-mannered dinosaur. The last of his kind (smaller than a T-Rex, bigger than a velociraptor), Bolivar has decided that the best place to live a quiet, unassuming life is…New York City. Why? Because almost all of his countless neighbors are always too busy, distracted, or disbelieving to notice him. Bolivar’s lifestyle is captured in a series of illustrations (reminiscent of “Where’s Waldo?”), which should delight young readers—and old ones—as they have to look for our reclusive hero. His innocence, shyness, and dinosaur-body-in-a-human-world slapstick make Bolivar all the more endearing.Along with the above, adults will enjoy creator Rubin’s graphic style. He combines deft cartooning (think Calvin and Hobbes) with detailed, landscape-like spreads of Manhattan neighborhoods and attractions, making them as realistic as they are fanciful (never too crowded; hard to imagine as noisy or smelly). There are also many jokes for grown-ups—both visual and verbal—that are casual, quirky, and clean. For example, when Bolivar gets a parking ticket (don’t ask), it includes the customer service help line “1-800-NYC-YELL.” Or, when the dinosaur is mistaken for the mayor of New York (again, don’t ask), that faint-hearted official himself looks like former, real-life celebrity mayor Ed Koch.Best of all, Rubin seamlessly intertwines an adult’s and child’s perspective. Parents won’t be reading BOLIVAR to the kids, but with the kids. The book creates a welcoming, lived-in world that’s meant to be shared and re-visited. In the words of Jules Feiffer, BOLIVAR is “an authentic fantasy, a genuine vision” although it never stops having fun. While the setting is urban and more-or-less contemporary, BOLIVAR has a real Winnie the Pooh-like vibe. (Except, in this case, the bear is scaly with a monstrous tail, and instead of honey he gets to eat stacks of corned-beef-on-rye—another good reason why the dinosaur loves New York.)
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