A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Itâ€™s the birth date of John Hancock (1737â€“1793), signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the first governor of Massachusetts. On a related note, itâ€™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 Meowâ€™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 Travelerâ€™s Literary Companion edited by John Balaban and Nguyen Qui Duc.
- Itâ€™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 canâ€™t be there, I am doing the next best thing: picking up Ame Dyckmanâ€™s Boy + Bot, one of the funniest and most original picture books of 2012.
In a very understated tone, the text announces â€śA boy was collecting pinecones in his wagon when he met a robot.â€ť 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 boyâ€™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.
Dyckmanâ€™s spare, matter-of-fact text has been brilliantly matched by Dan Yaccarinoâ€™s art, executed in gouache on watercolor paper. Using a palette of bright colorsâ€”marked by blue and orangeâ€”Yaccarinoâ€™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 elementsâ€”design, text, and artâ€”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 SchumakerÂ and Colby Sharp, Boy + Bot emerged as one of childrenâ€™s favorite picture books of last year. If youâ€™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 + Botâ€™s instructional manual: If read once, you will be reading the story again and again!
Originally posted January 23, 2013. Updated for .