This one may be too stuck on the arc of the original tale to come alive in its own right. (Picture book. 5-7)

THE THREE LITTLE ALIENS AND THE BIG BAD ROBOT

An extremely odd variant on "The Three Little Pigs."

It's time for Bork (two eyes, the sister), Gork (the one-eyed brother) and Nklxwcyz (three eyes, like their mom) to go out into the universe to find their own planets. Mom tells them to stick together and watch out for the Big Bad Robot. Bork chooses the red planet, and Gork is enchanted by the golden rings of another, but Nklxwcyz chooses Neptune and builds his house of space stuff and space junk. When the Big Bad Robot smashes Bork’s and Gork’s homes, they flee to Nklxwcyz, whose house is so strong that the Robot gets stuck in the telescope/chimney and explodes. The three children call mom, as exhorted, and she comes to tuck all three into bed. The green-skinned, red-haired or bald little aliens careen around the starry black universe with jetpacks and clear, round headgear, and there is some faint echo of charm in “ ‘Little alien! Little alien!’ it broinked. ‘COME OUT OF HIDING!’ / ‘Not by the orbit of this ring I’m riding!’ ” (The classic dialogue varies slightly from sibling to sibling.) It fails the logic test, though: The Big Bad Robot is fearsome, but there really doesn't seem to be a good reason for him to go after these kids.

This one may be too stuck on the arc of the original tale to come alive in its own right. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86689-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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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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