An entertaining romp through the mind of a child who refuses to settle for boring.

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MY TEACHER IS A ROBOT

In this graphic-novel–style picture book, Fred seeks to add excitement to a boring “robot” teacher’s school day.

Fred’s bedroom wall is plastered with drawings of robots, dinosaurs, and planets; the rug is covered with toy dinosaurs, and a model robot made of recycled materials sits on the floor. At the kitchen table, Fred’s mom, dressed for the office, says goodbye as Fred’s eyes roll. Fred looks warily at Mr. Bailey after being dropped off at school by Dad, who pushes Fred’s baby sibling in a stroller. “Class is SO boring. Everything Mr. Bailey says is robot talk!” While the other students work out their math problems, Fred spots a spider. On the next spread, the spider is shown as the size of the classroom, and Fred leads the class in excited spider talk. At recess, Fred and friends run around as superheroes, battling mud monsters. Thus also pass history and lunch, with the illustrated school scenes seamlessly representing the world of Fred’s imagination even as Fred complains about Mr. Bailey’s lack thereof. The day’s climax is a test—creative writing becomes a wordless spread filled with robots, swords, characters in medieval garb, dinosaurs, and unicorns. The vivid illustrations feature strong lines with the look of carefully colored marker-style shading in bright hues. The classroom is racially diverse; Fred is white, the teacher is black. A child named Miriam appears to be gender nonconforming, and another uses arm braces.

An entertaining romp through the mind of a child who refuses to settle for boring. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-553-53451-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers.

BAGEL IN LOVE

A romance for carb (and pun!) lovers who dance to their own drummers and don’t give up on their dreams.

Bagel is a guy who loves to dance; when he’s tapping and twirling, he doesn’t feel plain. The problem is, he can’t find a partner for the Cherry Jubilee Dance Contest. Poppy says his steps are half-baked. Pretzel, “who was at the spa getting a salt rub…told him his moves didn’t cut the mustard.” He strikes out in Sweet City, too, with Croissant, Doughnut, and Cake. But just when he’s given up, he hears the music from the contest and can’t help moving his feet. And an echoing tap comes back to him. Could it be a partner at last? Yep, and she just happens to smell sweet and have frosting piled high. Bagel and Cupcake crush the contest, but winning the trophy? That “was just icing on the cake,” as the final sentence reads, the two standing proudly with a blue ribbon and trophy, hearts filling the space above and between them. Dardik’s digital illustrations are pastel confections. Sometimes just the characters’ heads are the treats, and other times the whole body is the foodstuff, with tiny arms and legs added on. Even the buildings are like something from “Hansel and Gretel.” However, this pun-filled narrative is just one of many of its ilk, good for a few yuks but without much staying power.

In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2239-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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