Brainstorming—a book that ought to launch a thousand robots.

READ REVIEW

RALPH MASIELLO'S ROBOT DRAWING BOOK

Masiello elegantly and joyfully taps into a thankfully enduring artistic tradition: the step-by-step technique that walks readers by hand through the creation of an image on paper.

Just as he has done previously for dinosaurs, dragons and bugs (Ralph Masiello's Dragon Drawing Book, 2007, etc.), here he guides young artists in the creation of robots—“ ’bots,” in the vernacular, as in “Squarehead Thinbot,” “Sparky Springbot” and “Zoidbot.” The artist starts by introducing readers to lines and shapes—nothing is taken for granted—from which can be drawn an elemental robot. He then provides a serious handful of “spare parts,” which can be used to add detail to readers’ creations. The spare-part section is good for sparking the imagination, but the best sparks are thrown by the finished products, which are cool in their radical colors and otherworldliness but not daunting (even if readers are not likely to attain his level of gradients and shadings). Robots are by nature somewhat scary, with their dead, sharklike eyes and sharp edges, and Masiello keeps that spooky quality. But he also knows how to invest them with humor: witness the “Bakerbot,” with a muffin cooking in its belly.

Brainstorming—a book that ought to launch a thousand robots. (Nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-57091-535-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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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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The artist’s fans might key in, but most young readers will be left in the dark.

LITTLE.COM

When your computer powers down, the little “dot” is off-duty. You don’t think it just sits there, do you?

In this tipsy flight from Steadman, originally published overseas in 2000, the tidy dot on the first page is quickly transformed into mad splotches of black sporting googly eyes. It zooms through cyberspace to have tea—or, rather ink (“I LOVE INK!”)—with “my friend the Duchess of Amalfi,” and then goes off to spatter the besieging Duke of Bogshott and his white-uniformed army. Serving largely as an excuse for the illustrator to wield pen and brush ever more ferociously across a series of spreads, this free-associative plotline culminates with an invitation to attend the wedding of the duke and duchess as “Best Dot” (“I was so excited I made a mess on her carpet”) and a quick return home: “And here I am, ready to work for you again—dot dot dot.” As a clever riff on the internet, this doesn’t hold a pixel to Randi Zuckerberg and Joel Berger’s Dot. (2013) or Goodnight iPad by “Ann Droid” (2011), and the illustrator’s whacked-out mite isn’t going to take young readers on the sort of imagination-stretching artistic rides that Peter Reynolds’ The Dot (2003) or Hervé Tullet’s Press Here (2011) offer. But it does at least dispense exuberantly unrestrained permission to paint outside the lines.

The artist’s fans might key in, but most young readers will be left in the dark. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-56792-520-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godine

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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