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SPACEBOT

Make space on shelves for this one.

Outtasight! An extraterrestrial lands in the night.

Strange beeps and a blazing light awaken household appliances. The house glances skyward as does the family pup, who’d been snoozing in the doghouse. The light turns out to be a UFO, out of which strolls a metallic, robot dog with a glowing red nose. The dog instantly recognizes the newcomer as a kindred species and welcomes it with open paws, hoping the visitor will become a playmate. However, the creature ignores its Earthling counterpart and is heartily greeted by…the aforementioned appliances who cheer for “Spacebot” like it’s a long-lost electronic relation. When it points its metallic paw upward, the devices take their cue: They soar into the sky and perform playful acrobatics, descending and returning home at the bot’s direction. Meanwhile, the dog has been futilely attempting to fly as well but has remained earthbound. A surprise awaits, though. Before Spacebot departs, it tosses a glowing red ball to the pup. This “gift” fits right on pup’s nose and bestows the gift of flight. Guess who flies to the moon at the end of the story? This silly, quirky tale’s simple rhyme scheme reads and scans well; minimal text and lots of white space permit focus on characters and action. The cartoon illustrations are lively, energetic, and expressive, and readers should enjoy the escapades of both appliances and pup.

Make space on shelves for this one. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4436-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES, MR. BROWN?

Pedestrian.

Mr. Brown can’t help with farm chores because his shoes are missing—a common occurrence in his household and likely in many readers’ as well.

Children will be delighted that the titular Mr. Brown is in fact a child. After Mr. Brown looks in his closet and sorts through his other family members’ shoes with no luck, his father and his siblings help him search the farm. Eventually—after colorful pages that enable readers to spot footwear hiding—the family gives up on their hunt, and Mr. Brown asks to be carried around for the chores. He rides on his father’s shoulders as Papa gets his work done, as seen on a double-page spread of vignettes. The resolution is more of a lesson for the adult readers than for children, a saccharine moment where father and son express their joy that the missing shoes gave them the opportunity for togetherness—with advice for other parents to appreciate those fleeting moments themselves. Though the art is bright and cheerful, taking advantage of the setting, it occasionally is misaligned with the text (for example, the text states that Mr. Brown is wearing his favorite green shirt while the illustration is of a shirt with wide stripes of white and teal blue, which could confuse readers at the point where they’re trying to figure out which family member is Mr. Brown). The family is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Pedestrian. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-5460-0389-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: WorthyKids/Ideals

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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