Weird Little Robots by Carolyn Crimi

Weird Little Robots

Carolyn Crimi, Author

Corinna Luyken, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Oct. 1, 2019

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Themes: Science, Girls, Building robots, Bird watching, STEAM, Magic, Friendship

Book Synopsis:

When two science-savvy girls create an entire robot world, they don’t expect the robots to come alive. But life may be a bit more magical than they thought.

Eleven-year-old Penny Rose has just moved to a new town, and so far the robots she builds herself are her only company. But with just a bit of magic, everything changes: she becomes best friends with Lark, has the chance to join a secret science club, and discovers that her robots are alive.

Penny Rose hardly remembers how lonely she used to feel. But then a fateful misstep forces her to choose between the best friend she’s always hoped for and the club she’s always dreamed of, and in the end it may be her beloved little robots that pay the price.

Quirky and wonderful, this illustrated chapter book from Carolyn Crimi and Corinna Luyken shows that making your own space and a true friend in the world is a kind of magic all its own.

Why I like this book:

Carolyn Crimi’s has created an endearing debut chapter book that is full of wonder, magic, and new friendships. There is also a healthy dose of suspense and humor. And it is a story about girls who love all things science! Corinna Luyken’s warm and expressive black and white illustrations appear in each chapter and contribute to the story.

I enjoyed the friendship that is forged between Penny Rose and Lark, two quirky eleven-year-old girls who love science and making things. Penny Rose is good at building robots out of items she finds, like cell phones, dentures, and pencil sharpeners. Lark is not afraid of showing her weirdness and is passionate about birdwatching and building unusual birdhouses for her feathered friends from things she collects. Lark brings a unique perspective to Penny Rose’s interest in robots. Both girls are imaginative and create roboTown — a perfect city for the robots — in Penny Rose’s backyard shed.  Then something magical happens. The robots spring to life. Each robot has its own personality.

However, the friendship is tested when Penny Rose is invited to become a member of Secret Science Society. Much to her surprise, the society is made up of popular girls at school who like science, and a bully, Jeremy. But Penny Rose isn’t allowed to tell anyone about the society, including, Lark, who isn’t invited. Tension builds between the girls, until someone steals some of the robots and trashes the shed. But revenge is sweet in this story. And friendships can be rekindled when Penny Rose decides not to join the society unless Lark is invited.

Carolyn Crimi is the author of several books for children, including Where’s My Mummy?, Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies, Henry and the Crazed Chicken Pirates, and There Might Be Lobsters. She lives in Illinois.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by publisher.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Boy Who Harnessed Wind9780803735118_p0_v1_s260x420The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. Authors

Elizabeth Zunon, Illustrator

Dial Books for Young Readers, Biography, 2012

Suitable for: Ages 6-9

Themes:  William Kamkwamba, Science, Windmills, Irrigation, Children Making a Difference

Opening/Synopsis“In an a small village in Malawi, where people had no money for lights, nightfall came quickly and hurried poor farmers to bed.  But for William, the darkness was best for dreaming.”   William Kamkwamba, is a 14-year-old boy who lives in a drought-stricken area of Malawi in Africa.  He’s a curious boy interested in trying to figure out how car engines run and radios transmit music.  He loves to study science and mechanics.  When a drought hits his village and many people starve and die, William wants to help.  He goes to a nearby library donated by Americans where he learns that windmills can produce electricity and pump water.   He envisions a  windmill outside his home pulling electricity from the breeze and bringing light to the dark valley.  He sets to work to build electric wind to bring light to his village and water to soak the ground and grow crops to feed the village.  The villagers think he’s crazy.

Why I like this book:  This is a powerful and true story about how a boy’s dreams, imagination and mechanical talents save his village.   I love this book because it encourages and empowers children to imagine and dream big.  They too can make a difference like William.   It also introduces children to the Malawi culture which is unlike their own.  The book is written by the now grown William Kamkwamba, who is a student a Dartmouth College.  The book has a lyrical feel to it and Elizabeth Zunon’s illustrations are simple, bold and stunning.

Resources:  There are back pages of information about William Kamkwamba.  Also Alliant Energy Kids  teaches kids about alternative energies and powering toys with wind power.  Visit Kids and Energy for more activities and resources about alternative power sources.

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Friday, December 14, is the anniversary of the date in 1954 that the UN General Assembly recommended there should be a Universal Children’s Day.  All of those participating in author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, are doing out part to raise awareness of the plight of children around the globe and to promote the welfare of children in the world by posting books which focus on multicultural/multiracial issues, human rights, and/or children who have helped to change the world in some way.

Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow

Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow

Joyce Sidman, Author

Beth Krommes, Illustrator

Houghton Mifflin Company, Fiction, 2006

Suitable for: Ages 6 and up

Themes: Meadows, Science, Nature, Poetry

Opening/Synopsis:  “On calm, clear summer nights, the meadow cools down quickly.  Grasses, flowers, leaves, and even insects become cooler than the warm air around them. Just as it does on a cold can of soda pop, water vapor in the air condenses on those cool surfaces, forming dew.  Then, as dawn comes and the sun touches them, the dew drops evaporate back into the air.”  Written in both verse and prose, this is story of a living and breathing meadow that is dependent and connected to life, and is constantly changing.  There are beautiful poems about the awakening meadow, the animal life, birds and insects, the flowering plants and grasses that offer a feeding frenzy for all, and trees that provide shade.   Children are taken on a journey into the meadow from sunrise to sunset.  Each poem brings science to life.  The poems vary from mysterious and captivating, to silly and magical.

What I like about this book:  Both author and illustrator fell in love with meadows as young children and found them enchanting. Joyce Sidman has written such a magical book, alternating between double spreads of verse and prose that add interesting  science details about how life coexists in the meadow.  Children will find that each poem is a riddle to solve about butterflies, snakes, rabbits, fox and deer.  The text that follows provides the answers and interesting facts.  Krommes illustrations are a feast for the eyes.  Each illustration is made by a scratchboard technique that is rich and colorful.  Children will enjoy studying every detail on the page.  With Earth Day April 22, and Poetry Month in April, I found this book a lovely celebration of both.  The author and illustrator have also released a book in 2011, Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature.

Activities:  Since this is Earth Day weekend, it would be a nice time for a spring outing with your child.   Visit a meadow in your area.   Many local Park and Recreation Divisions, and Nature Preserves provide guided tours and  programs.   Let you child hunt for treasures that they can take home and make a collage of their own meadow as an earth day contribution.  For Earth Day resources, click on this Earth Day link .

To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.  Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays  badge in the right sidebar.