• It’s the birth date of John Hancock (1737–1793), signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the first governor of Massachusetts. On a related note, it’s National Handwriting Day.
  • Elizabeth Blackwell is awarded her M.D. in 1849, by the Medical Institute of Geneva, New York, becoming the United States' first female doctor. Read Doctor Meow’s Big Emergency by Sam Lloyd.
  • On this day in1973 President Richard Nixon announces a peace accord has been reached in Vietnam. Read Vietnam: A Traveler’s Literary Companion edited by John Balaban and Nguyen Qui Duc.
  • It’s National Pie Day. Read How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman.

The 20th Singapore Robotic Games is taking place today at the Science Center in Singapore. Does this sound like fun or what? Since I can’t be there, I am doing the next best thing: picking up Ame Dyckman’s Boy + Bot, one of the funniest and most original picture books of 2012.

In a very understated tone, the text announces “A boy was collecting pinecones in his wagon when he met a robot.” And then the magic continues and they play. But while rolling down a hill, the robot malfunctions because its power switch gets turned off. Dragging his friend home, the boy tries everything to revive the robot, even feeding it applesauce, only to fall asleep with the problem unsolved. When the boy’s parent unintentionally bumps the power switch back into the right place, the tables are turned and the bot tries to help the sleeping boy. With a completely satisfying and happy story arc, the two friends, now revived, can play with each other. A final page shows them hand in hand, walking into the sunset together.

Dyckman’s spare, matter-of-fact text has been brilliantly matched by Dan Yaccarino’s art, executed in gouache on watercolor paper. Using a palette of bright colors—marked by blue and orange—Yaccarino’s bold and geometric artwork extends the story and presents narrative material that can be savored by readers. For the simple line of text that states that the friends played, the artist shows several panels of their fascinating activities together. Everything in this book, from the front cover to the final ISBN notice on the back cover (seconding as a battery for the robot), has been carefully constructed to make an enjoyable reading experience. This is one of those wonderful books where all three elements—design, text, and art—combine to make a whole greater than any of the parts.

And, of course, the subject matter alone would garner the attention of young readers. Talk about a book presenting an appealing childhood fantasy! In the Mock Caldecott Award held by John Schumaker  and Colby Sharp, Boy + Bot emerged as one of children’s favorite picture books of last year. If you’ve missed it and want a sure-fire crowd-pleaser for story hour or independent reading, pick up this gem. However, heed this warning that comes with Boy + Bot’s instructional manual: If read once, you will be reading the story again and again!

 Boy and Bot page

Originally posted January 23, 2013. Updated for .

Tags: Friendship, Science, Technology, Toys
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Boy + Bot
One year ago: A New Year's Reunion


  1. Helene says:

    Beautiful! Thanks!

  2. McCourt says:

    My 4-year-old loves this book. He walked around for weeks after we read it saying ‘affirmative’ in his best robot voice. Definitely a repeat for us at bedtime!

  3. Anita says:

    McCourt: Thanks for the feedback on this book.

  4. Ame Dyckman says:

    THANK YOU so much, Anita! (And thanks, too, Helene and McCourt. McCourt, LOVE that story!) :)

  5. Anita says:

    Ame: I myself have been running around for two days saying “affirmative”!

  6. S.Matt Read says:

    I just got around to reading this book, and it is a very sweet tale. I was especially pleased by the final spread which gave us just a touch of the story after the story, that of a thriving friendship.

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