Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Affirmative Picture Book August 10 for 10 #pb10for10

It hardly seems possible in less than two months autumn 2016 will arrive.  One of the finest ways to enjoy the last weeks of summer is to participate in the annual Picture Book Ten for Ten.  Co-founders of the event Mandy Robek and Cathy Mere have created a community of those who wish to list their current top ten favorites in general or by a theme.  Cathy explains it here.

This will be my fifth year generating a list of favorite books around a common theme.  In my first year I selected ten plus two of my favorite alphabet books from my collection.  Year two had me unable to select only ten of my top picture books from my canine collection, so Xena my wonderful Labrador retriever picked the titles.  That year I used an application called Learni.st to host the choices.  This can now only be accessed by using the app rather than the website.  If you use the app Learni.st and search under Xena the book list, August Ten for Ten Xena's Favorite Dog Books, will appear.  As a companion to the first list I chose counting and number books in 2014.  Last year my books revolved around bedtime, sleep and sweet dreams.

Our fascination with robots began centuries ago.  Did you know Leonard da Vinci actually designed a humanoid robot?  Robots can perform a variety of activities, become supreme victors, terrorize the world, be best friends, lull others to sleep and transform from one thing to another.  In order of their publication I present ten of my favorite books with robots as key characters.

1.  Hello, Robots (Viking, September 23, 2004) written and illustrated by Bob Staake

Four colorful robots, Blink wearing red is a supreme chef, Zinc wearing purple thrives on repairing things made of steel, Blip wearing green is a gardener extraordinaire and Zip wearing yellow is a cleaning machine.  Each performs their tasks working side by side, their story told in a jaunty rhyming text.  Every few pages a repeating phrase invites reader participation.

Hello, robots!
Metal robots!
Smiling bolt
to bolt. 

All is well for the friendly foursome until they get caught in an unexpected rain shower.  Their circuits are mightily confused.  Their jobs are a bit of mix and match.  When they finally use their heads normalcy is restored.  This is a read aloud jewel.  By following this link you are taken to activities at Bob Staake website.

2.  Robot Zot! (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, September 22, 2009) written by Jon Scieszka with illustrations by David Shannon

Having traveled through the galaxy Robot Zot wishes to conquer the land where his ship has landed.  He is in the home of a human and his size is greatly diminished.  Half the size of a common household blender, he is not swayed in his determination zapping all enemies.

His warrior-like endeavors suddenly stop when he beholds the Queen of all Earth, a decorative toy phone.  Her protection is his new prime focus until the fearsome Commander General approaches.  Woof! Woof! You can expect a loud and happy response to this hilarious title.   Here is a link to some accompanying activities supplied by the publisher. Follow this link to enjoy a video interview of Jon Scieszka at the publisher's website.

3.  OH NO! (OR HOW MY SCIENCE PROJECT DESTROYED THE WORLD) (Disney Hyperion, June 1, 2010) written by Mac Barnett with illustrations by Dan Santat

It's that time of year when those involved in the world of children and young adult literature start to reflect on the possibilities for the Caldecott and Newbery awards, not that we've not been doing it all year long.  Trying to limit the list for our Mock Caldecott Election with the third and fourth grade students to twelve is going to be tough in 2011.  One thing for sure is that Mac Barnett's book, Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed The World), illustrated by Dan Santat will be included.

Just seeing the huge words Oh No! on the cover conjures up all kinds of possibilities.  Couple that with the reflection of a giant toad and robot in each lens of the girl's glasses and off we go!  Revealed with the opening of the cover are detailed schematics for a robot and a growth ray device on the front and back endpapers respectively.

4.  Clink (Balzar + Bray, April 5, 2011written by Kelly DiPucchio with illustrations by Matthew Myers

What's a robot to do when his glory days seem to be past?  Rusty, old and with parts dropping off here and there, no one seems to want a robot who makes toast and plays music.  The other robots try to keep his spirits high but as each one leaves, Clink gets sadder and sadder until he shuts himself down.

One day the notes of a harmonica spark an idea in Clink's metal mind.  This robot puts on a show as if he is performing on Broadway.  The results are not quite as he hoped but sometimes a disaster surprises everyone.  Toast anyone?

5.  Boy + Bot (Alfred A. Knopf, April 10, 2012) written by Ame Dyckman with illustrations by Dan Yaccarino

Back in 2001 I discovered a poster by Rick Ruggles titled Love is where you find it...  From that time forward I have tried to slow down to notice heart shapes appearing everywhere, especially when Xena and I take our walks; discovering those special stones on the beach is like finding a priceless possession.  But sometimes you don't find the heart, the love, unexpectedly, finds you.

First time author, Ame Dyckman, teams with illustrator, Dan Yaccarino, to bring readers, Boy + Bot (Alfred A. Knopf), an endearing story of a normal day turned extraordinary.  Remarkable use of text and visuals, make this book a stunning example of the beauty to be found in simplicity.  You never know what a day spent gathering will reveal.

Boy + Bot written by Ame Dyckman with illustrations by Dan Yaccarino is a clever story where caring + sharing = friendship.  When readers' hearts are warmed and laughter tugs at the corners of their mouths, a book will be read again and again; shared with as many as possible.  This is one of those books, a timeless classic.

6.  Doug Unplugged (Alfred A. Knopf, February 12, 2013) written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino

Earlier this week one of my virtual colleagues, Cynthia Alaniz, wrote on her blog, Teaching in Cute Shoes, about a main character in a book who decides to give up all forms of technology, living like her grandmother did in 1962.  At the end of her post she spoke about the value of virtual connections for her and asked us readers which technology we could live without.  As for myself, I agree wholeheartedly with the value of the connections technology provides but it is definitely challenging to find a balance.  After all when you've grown up with the first televisions being black and white only, phones having party lines and the first transistor radios being cause for celebration, it's fascinating to see the swiftness in which technological advances are rapidly changing nearly every facet of our lives.

I find myself pausing more and more, thinking about time saved due to technology versus time lost in those very connections, personal and professional, which consume minutes and hours previously spent on other endeavors.  In the midst of these musing a book arrived by mail, the newest title written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino, Doug Unplugged (Alfred A. Knopf).  This robot wonders and then walks...well actually, he flies.

Doug Unplugged written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino proposes and shows the value in using all your senses to truly discover and experience the smallest details and the largest vistas as much as you can whenever you can.  I, for one, am glad Doug tugged the plug.  I highly recommend this as a read aloud; bedtime or storytime.

7.  R Is For Robot: A Noisy Alphabet Book (Price Stern Sloan, June 26, 2014) written and illustrated by Adam F. Watkins

Our house was a house of making things.  If something needed fixing Dad would devise the perfect albeit unique solution.  No holiday or vacation was complete without lots of arts and crafts; Mom was never at a loss for ideas.

When combining Dad's inventiveness with Mom's creativity, our Halloween costumes were a sight to behold. One particular October I was the neighborhood robot; donning painted boxes decorated with knobs and gizmos galore.  For that reason, the fact children adore anything about robots and my growing collection of alphabet books, I couldn't have been happier when I was handed R Is For Robot: A Noisy Alphabet (Price Stern Sloan, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC) written and illustrated by Adam F. Watkins the last time I visited my favorite independent bookstore.

If you are looking for quiet book R Is For Robot: A Noisy Alphabet written and illustrated by Adam F. Watkins is not for you.  It's a fun-filled title loaded with action and humor. One read aloud will not suffice.  Expect requests to read this again and again.  I think it would be a great idea to assign a sound to each student in the classroom having them repeat it after it's read adding to the sounds until the end when it will be a symphony.

8.  Power Down, Little Robot (Henry Holt and Company, March 3, 2015) written by Anna Staniszewski with illustrations by Tim Zeltner

As soon as the words are uttered by an adult, the children show an unprecedented genius.  Plans worthy of a seasoned general are put into place.  It's a battle of strategy and wits.  Even if the guys and gals previously seemed to be slowing down, the sound of "It's time for bed" will energize them into action.

They will develop a thirst similar to an individual wandering the Sahara for days without a drop to drink.  A need for clean pajamas, the brushing of teeth, another trip to the bathroom, forgotten homework needing to be completed by morning, and please, pretty please, just one more story will be only a few of their moves for avoiding the dreaded bedtime.  Power Down, Little Robot (Henry Holt and Company, March 3, 2015) written by debut picture book author Anna Staniszewski with illustrations by Tim Zeltner gives a unique spin to the nuts and bolts of a daily ritual.

Full of charm and warmth, you will definitely want to include Power Down, Little Robot written by Anna Staniszewski with illustrations by Tim Zeltner in your collection of popular bedtime titles.  It's as soothing as a lullaby.  I would pair it with All the Awake Animals Are Almost AsleepSleep Like A TigerDream Animals: A Bedtime JourneyTime For Bed, Fred!and Go to Sleep, Little Farm.

9.  Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep! (Little, Brown and Company, September 8, 2015) written by Todd Tarpley with illustrations by John Rocco

A pajama-clad boy moves down the hallway with his three robot pals to get ready for bed.  After scrubbing up in the bathroom it's time for all four to snuggle and sleep in their individual places. The problem is the robots. They simply can't get settled. One mechanical complication after another seems to plague them.  Their boy is getting more frustrated by the minute.  A trick as old as time works wonders.  Mission accomplished! No more beeping only sleeping.

Told in rhyme Todd Tarpley lulls us with his words into the bedtime ritual.  His use of robotic terms fits as smoothly as a well-oiled machine into the story.  By having the automated companions interrupt the boy's rest once, twice and three times before his irritation causes a verbal explosion, the fourth and final request is more surprising and satisfying.

10.  Robo-Sauce (Dial Books For Young Readers, October 20, 2015) written by Adam Rubin with illustrations by Daniel Salmieri

When a version of the phrase,

you are what you eat,

originated nearly two hundred years ago, it was meant to imply food will determine the state of your health.  Today with the plethora of specialty cookbooks, diet plans, nutritionists and chefs with star status the definition remains intact.  In fact scientific research supports the belief certain ingredients consumed will heighten and lengthen or conversely prove detrimental to our lives.

Author Adam Rubin and illustrator Daniel Salmieri, the collaborative team who brought us Those Darn Squirrels, Those Darn Squirrels and the Cat Next DoorDragons Love TacosThose Darn Squirrels Fly SouthSecret Pizza Partyand Big Bad Bubble, have combined their considerable talents and love of wacky wildness to explore the notion of whipping up a special potion.  In Robo-Sauce (Dial Books For Young Readers, October 20, 2015) we discover with the right stuff dreams can and do come true.  Get ready readers!

Happy reading to all of you!  Remember to greet each day with a hearty Affirmative!


  1. Many of my students have a fascination with robots. I'll have to look into these. Thanks for sharing so many great sounding titles.

    1. Thank you for stopping in to view my choices Lisa. I don't think we can ever have too many robot books. You are welcome.

  2. Margie,
    I'm so glad you joined the fun again this year. Your list required I pull out my library card. I'm looking forward to checking out some new titles about robots (and loved the story of your parents --- makers before it was cool).


    1. I wouldn't miss this Cathy. I'm glad that you found some new titles. This event you and Mandy started is amazing.

  3. Each one has a message to consider, and I know children will love thinking about what it means. I just took my youngest granddaughter to a robot museum at our Science and Nature Museum. She was almost 5 at the time, and had little trouble figuring out how to work the robots, or build one! Amazing world they are growing up in compared to our own childhood, I agree, Margie. Thanks for sharing so much about each book, too!

    1. I really enjoy reading about your adventures Linda and the wonderful things you do with your grandchildren. It certainly is a different world since I was a child. You are welcome.

  4. Margie, I ALWAYS love your lists. We did a lot of robot drawing this year after reading Little Robot and Robo-sauce was so popular in my room I had to hide it for a while to calm down the reading frenzy!

    1. Thank you Carrie. I think the fascination with robots is going to continue to grow as their technology becomes more advanced. Thank you for sharing your classroom story.

  5. It's not a picture book, but I recently found The First Robot President, a tongue-in-cheek book for this presidential season.

  6. I appreciate your list as robots are a current trend in my library. Thanks for your recommendations.
    Apples with Many Seeds

    1. You are welcome, Tammy. I hope your students can enjoy some of these titles.

  7. Oh, what a fun list -- for boys and girls to love! We just read Doug Unplugged this week and my 6 yo girls understood the importance of "unplugging"! So many other great robot books to explore. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you Michelle. This is one of my favorite activities every year. I hope you are able to read more of these titles.

  8. Now here's an unusual theme around which to gather books! Oh No is definitely one I have to find a copy of.

    1. There are such a variety of themes each year Tara that I try to focus on one which is relevant but not already done. Oh No is wonderful and there is a companion title too, Oh No Not Again.

  9. You are always so creative with your thinking! I love this collection, especially because it's so different from something I would put together. Thanks for the collection idea!

    1. I've had this idea for a couple of years Michele. In fact, I already have a list going for future years. It's fun to think of a theme and then find the titles. Thank you for your comments. And you are welcome.

  10. What a fun list!! Robots!! I've read a few of these, but the new one to me that caught my eye was Robo-Sauce - putting it on hold at the library right now!

  11. Love Anna's book & Boy + Bot! Will look forward to checking out these others (+ The Wild Robot)