Yet in an era in which electronics are always one-upping one another in the global market, it’s nice to see a picture-book...

ROBOT ZOMBIE FRANKENSTEIN!

Competitive pals get into a war of escalating ridiculousness in this amusing if visually stunted tale.

Two robots introduce themselves to readers, then one zips away and back to reintroduce itself as “Robot ZOMBIE!” Not to be outdone, its companion dons a costume of its own, now appearing as “Robot Zombie Frankenstein!” And up the ante goes. With each change, the robots pile on more and more visual elements (a Frankenstein scar, Groucho glasses, etc.). When the robots both appear as "Robot zombie Frankenstein pirate superhero-in-disguise outer space invader chef," one robot produces a tasty cherry pie and the two dig in, rivalry forgotten and buddies once more. The endpapers display the full roster of shapes that make up each costume. While the effect is novel and the chaos sure to prove hilarious to young readers, there is something oddly static about the digital art itself. In its attempt to simplify the visuals down to their most essential shapes, the story is drained of the vitality and charisma normally associated with Simon’s work. Thanks to the use of shapes, this book may work best with craft programs more than anything else.

Yet in an era in which electronics are always one-upping one another in the global market, it’s nice to see a picture-book equivalent that ends with the consumption of delicious desserts. Apple and PC, take note. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5124-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Informative, empowering, and fun.

ROX'S SECRET CODE

Girl power abounds in this book about coding that introduces young readers to the world of programming while offering them hands-on activities via a companion app.

In this title that was first introduced as a customizable, personalized print-on-demand product, Rox has a superpower. Using code, she programs toy robots that can do things like make broccoli disappear—or mischief. When Dad tells Rox to clean her room, she quickly thinks up a bot that will do it for her, writing code that instructs her bot to use artificial intelligence to sort objects by color and type. Though Rox knows that there’s a high potential for her creation to rebel, the perks outweigh any potential adverse effects. Rox’s robot has her room neat and tidy in no time—and then the entire home. Chorebot’s AI allows it to keep learning, and it seems Chorebot can do no wrong until the robot decides to rearrange the entire city (both buildings and people) by type, style, and gender. Chorebot goes “out of his artificial mind!” Rox must now stop her creation…without the assistance of the internet. The artwork, styled in the tradition of popular superhero series, is peppy and colorful, and it depicts Rox as an adorable black girl donning a black bomber jacket and a pink tutu. A companion app (not available for review) allows readers to create a bot of their own.

Informative, empowering, and fun. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-57687-899-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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