An abundance of absurdity that will entertain boys and girls of all ages.

ROBO-SAUCE

The creators of Dragons Love Tacos (2012) and Secret Pizza Party (2013) serve up another heaping helping of silliness.

A robot-crazy kid whips up a batch of Robo-Sauce, a magical concoction made up of a list of ridiculous ingredients such as “12 volts gluten-free kookamonga flakes” and “a sprig of sparkenfarfle.” After pouring it over himself, he morphs into a robot and has a blast, at least until everyone skedaddles and he realizes that a rampage is “a bit more fun for the giant robot than it is for all the squishy little humans.” Perhaps counterintuitively, Robo-Kid destroys the ROBO-ANTIDOTO that would have restored him to squishy humanity, opting instead to launch a vat of Robo-Sauce at his family. Ultimately, he turns everything into a robot, including his friends, his dog, and finally, the book itself! Following the instructions provided, readers can pull out and attach a special silver dust jacket, and ROBO-BOOK is born! This slim silver volume contains a brief story starring the new robo-family and features a QR code leading to an interactive website. The engaging art, wry narrative voice, and surprise ending make for a winning combination.

An abundance of absurdity that will entertain boys and girls of all ages. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-42887-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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