Aimed squarely at small boys, this is action, adventure and imagination with a positive message.

AWESOME DAWSON

An inventive reuser builds a cleaning robot that threatens to eat his town.

Awesome Dawson repurposes everything. From his earliest childhood, he has made new things from old, including, most importantly, his best friend, Mooey. Together, boy and talking cow-head (Dawson likes to switch Mooey’s bodies around) save the town from the young inventor’s overachieving vacuum cleaner; on the final pages, they’re poised to save humanity from space invaders. The inspiration for this adventure is revealed in mostly sepia-toned endpapers showing a sea of household junk and a broken sign that reads MacGyver St. But the real appeal comes from Gall’s intriguing illustrations. These digitally colored prints made from engravings on an ink-covered clay board are crowded with things—robots, toys, Mooey’s ever-changing body, even furniture and airplanes—made out of discarded materials. Everything is carefully labeled. Old surfboards, plastic bottles, lobster claws and even cat food find new uses. Though his workshop is jumbled, tools (also carefully labeled) hang neatly on a pegboard. The text appears in boxes and speech bubbles, as in a graphic novel or comic strip. Even more than his monster cleaner, Dawson’s final constructions—a new car for his parents, yet another body for Mooey and an alien-chasing airplane—will remind readers of the author’s Dinotrux (2009).

Aimed squarely at small boys, this is action, adventure and imagination with a positive message. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-21330-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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