Robot Zombie Frankenstein! by Annette Simon
Two robots who are friends try to out-do each other as they dress in costumes. It starts out with Robot Zombie and goes on from there, until they each have pirate hats, eye patches, capes, chef hats, space helmets, and much much more. By the end, the two of them look very silly, dressed in all of that gear. The competition continues until one robot pulls out a cherry pie and the two friends decide to drop the costume competition and share a treat.
A large part of the appeal of this book are the illustrations. They have white backgrounds that really make the bright-colored shapes pop against them. Simon uses simple shapes, wild colors and lots of creativity to make costumes for these characters. Along the way, she shows just how little it takes to evoke a character, sometimes only a few stitches on the head, or a cape around the shoulders.
The writing takes a backseat here, simply supporting the wild antics in the images. Its use of popular subjects like zombies and robots will get young readers to pick up this book. The cover completely drew in my son, who just had to read this book immediately.
Halloween story times can be tricky, and this is just the right story to add to your not-scary-at-all version for the youngest listeners. It’s also a book with plenty of humor and zip that will appeal to any youngster who enjoys a good giggle and a great costume. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Candlewick Press.
Caddy’s World by Hilary McKay
If you have not yet discovered the artistic, free-spirited, dynamic world of the Casson family, you are in for a treat! This is the sixth book in the series that started with Saffy’s Angel. In this book, we return to a time when Caddy, the oldest of the Casson children, was twelve. She had three best friends and all of them had a role to play in their little group. But this year, all of them are facing challenges in their lives. Alison is completely bored with school and longing for something new, so she starts rebelling against school rules. Ruby has been asked to try for a prestigious scholarship to a private school but she doesn’t want to leave her friends. Beth is outgrowing her pony and decides to limit her diet. Caddy too has a challenge, a new baby is coming to the family, and her father who usually lives away from the family in London returns to help take charge. But things are never that easy in the chaos of the Casson family!
McKay has the ability to speak about serious issues like premature babies, growing older, potential bulimia, and chaotic family life without heading into deep drama. While the subjects are deep and the emotions are real, she keeps a lighter touch on them than most authors. My favorite example of this is the chaos of this family. It’s a family filled with love, art projects, failed cooking, and laughter. But it’s also a family that is often adrift, rudderless, and late for school. McKay walks the line, demonstrating that there are many sorts of families and that some of them that may look fragmented are actually strong and true.
McKay is also adept at drawing characters. Here we get to see younger versions of several beloved characters: Saffy, Indigo and Caddy. They are all wonderfully true to their older selves, showing interest that later come to full light. The addition of the three new characters and glimpses of other previous ones make for a book that is fresh but also warmly familiar to fans of the series.
This sixth book in the series would work as a stand-alone read. Taking place earlier than the other novels, it will delight fans and should encourage new ones to enter the world of the Cassons. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from library copy.