Look elsewhere for board books that don’t seek to confine children to stereotypes at the toddler stage.

I LOVE MY ROBOT

From the Love Meez series

A little boy celebrates his toy robot.

For readers named Henry whose favorite snuggle toys are robots, this may be the perfect board book—or it may just be another cloying offering in Church's Love Meez series. In rhyming first-person text, Henry, a precocious, white toddler with a mop of reddish-brown hair, describes his robot friend and the imaginary adventures they have together. The first page features a wheel to rotate with rainbow dots on the recto and coppery stars on the verso that glimmer as the wheel turns. A mirror on the next double-page spread lets children “see” themselves in the book. Tiny, tearable flaps hide the sounds Robot makes as he falls asleep. Irregular syllable counts make the rhyming text awkward to read aloud. Crucially, the book loses its toddler voice when the narrator says, “Although he's not a person, / Robot's my special friend, / The fun and games we have together / I know will never end.” I Love My Bunny, published simultaneously, follows the same format, with soft-touch bunny tail, scratch-and-sniff cookies, glittery bubbles, and a soft swatch of blanket on the last page. Both reinforce gender stereotypes: boys blast off with robot adventures, and girls host tea parties.

Look elsewhere for board books that don’t seek to confine children to stereotypes at the toddler stage. (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-83593-0

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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