Book Review: Boy + Bot

Author: Ame Dyckman
Illustrator:  Dan Yaccarino
Publisher:  Knopf (Released April 10, 2012)
Source: Personal Copy
Audience: Ages 3 to 7
Fiction * Friendship * Imagination

Description from publisher's page:
One day, a boy and a robot meet in the woods. They play. They have fun. But when Bot gets switched off, Boy thinks he's sick. The usual remedies—applesauce, reading a story—don't help, so Boy tucks the sick Bot in, then falls asleep. Bot is worried when he powers on and finds his friend powered off. He takes Boy home with him and tries all his remedies: oil, reading an instruction manual. Nothing revives the malfunctioning Boy! Can the Inventor help fix him? Using the perfect blend of sweetness and humor, this story of an adorable duo will win the hearts of the very youngest readers.

My thoughts on the book:
Thanks to John Schu/Watch.Connect.Read & Colby Sharp/SharpRead for introducing me to Boy + Bot.  What a sweet, wonderful book about friendship and play and understanding one another.  If you haven't seen this book, it is a simple story about the friendship between a young boy and a robot.  Part of the charm in this book is how Dyckman captures perfectly a young child's response to another person's (or in this case a robot) needs.  When a young child sees a friend or an adult sad or hurt, the typical response is to do for them what they would want done for themselves.  This may include bringing over a favorite toy or blanket.  In the case of Boy + Bot, Boy is worried that his new friend may be sick and starts with feeding him applesauce, and reading him a story.  Bot, who is in some ways on the same level as the young boy, returns the favor when expressing his own concerns.  This sharing of concern can spark discussion between children and adults about what kinds of things we can do for friends.  And the end pages, where the Boy + Bot are playing together are some of my favorite images in the book.  

Boy + Bot also has straightforward text.  Though some of the vocabulary may be beyond the typical vocabulary of beginning readers, there are many lines in this story that are not.  The first thing my kinders noticed when I shared this book with them today: "Hey the words start with the same two letters." (referring to the title) Yes, they do.  Parents reading along with their child can encourage their young reader to read what they can.  I would anticipate that children will pick up on the text quickly and begin to *read* this one after a few readings with an adult.

Dan Yaccarino's illustrations are also important to the story.  They are simple and match the text in that manner, but there is more.  The illustrations are bright, colorful and capture the hearts of the readers.  This is certainly one of those times where text melds perfectly with illustrations.
My students' thoughts on the book:
I read this today to a kindergarten class and a first grade class.  Here is what they liked about the book:

I liked it. - Stephanie

My favorite part was when they put the pine cones in the wagon. - Kayla

I liked when the boy finds the robot. - Aidan

I liked when the boy and the robot walk away together at the end. - Destiny

I like when the family is reunited at the end. - Keven

I liked the photobooth pictures. - Jocelyn

I liked when Bot fed the Boy oil. - Ryan

I liked how Bot took care of the Boy his way. - Faith

I would say that Boy + Bot is a success with my students.  Look for this book at your local bookstore or school or public library.

Check out the book trailer for Boy + Bot:

For more information about debut picture book author, Ame Dyckman: Website | Twitter | Facebook