A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

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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

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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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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An object lesson in the value of patience as well as a droll introduction to meta-what-now.

THE VERY IMPATIENT CATERPILLAR

Not every caterpillar gets the memo—or is, for that matter, temperamentally suited to spending two weeks immobilized in a chrysalis.

Seeing everyone headed up a tree (“We’re going to metamorphosize.” “Meta-WHAT-now?”) a clueless caterpillar hurries to follow. Despite the promise of a dazzling transformation, every step in the natural process, from spinning a chrysalis on, is an occasion for histrionic dismay (“It’s STILL Day 1?” “This is taking FOR-EV-ER!”). Gradually, though, the pop-eyed pupa’s kvetching quiets, the moans and groans turn to meditation (“Be one with the chrysalis”), and two weeks later: “I did it! I’m a BUTTERFLY!” Burach chronicles this miracle of nature in cartoon scenes as loud as the rapid patter, culminating in a migratory flight of butterflies and a final “ARE WE THERE YET?!” that hints at a character transformation that’s perhaps less complete than the physical one. It won’t be just adults chuckling at the interactions between the title character and its patiently pupating companions; all the characters speak in dialogue balloons, the protagonist’s green with purple text to match its chrysalis.

An object lesson in the value of patience as well as a droll introduction to meta-what-now. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-28941-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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