A functional early reader, but the engineering aspect of this “girl engineer story” feels lacking.

1, 2, 3, PULL!

From the I Like To Read series

Min, the resourceful elephant protagonist of Min Makes a Machine (2018) and 3, 2, 1, Go! (2015), is back in this new addition to the I Like To Read series for emergent readers.

Young elephants Ann and Bess are putting on a show in the forest, but they won’t allow Min to be in it. When an overnight storm topples a tree in the clearing where the show is set to take place, only Min knows what to do. With Min directing the other girls, the trio devise a solution to move the heavy tree out of the way so that the show can go on—with a new addition to the cast. This installment includes all the hallmarks of previous I Like To Read titles. The text is very short and uses sentences of just three to nine words. The vocabulary is simple, with repetition of several words and phrases providing opportunities for readers to gain proficiency; however, the exact same words appear on two consecutive spreads, causing a hiccup in the narrative flow. The three elephants, decked out in colorful stripes, polka dots, hats, and hair bows, are charmingly rendered in the illustrations but challenging to differentiate. Unfortunately, missed opportunities to use page turns effectively coupled with the thin plot make the story rather lackluster. Additionally, although the device the girls build is clever, there is no textual explanation of how it works or vocabulary identifying its parts.

A functional early reader, but the engineering aspect of this “girl engineer story” feels lacking. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4509-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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