Elem./MG – Your Pal Fred

Rex, Michael. Your Pal Fred. Viking Press, 2022. 978-0-593-20633-2 255p. $12.99. Grades 3-8.

Fred is activated in a post-apocalyptic world after two brothers accidentally discover him in a pile of trash. Fred embarks on a journey over a land that has been destroyed by war, aliens, a comet, and cats. It is now ruled by two opposing characters: Papa Mayhem and Lord Bonkers. Fred is on a quest to bring peace to all. Along the way he makes friends with disgruntled characters who join him to bring kindness to all. Will he be able to convince the two top dogs that peace is the answer and not war? 

THOUGHTS: This graphic novel is full of silliness and fun, and how one individual can create a positive chain reaction through one act of kindness at a time.  

Graphic Novel          Victoria Dziewulski, Plum Borough SD

Elem. – Robobaby

Wiesner, David. Robobaby. Clarion Books, 2020. 978-0-544-98731-9. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-3.

A new baby boy arrives at the robot family home – some assembly required. Big sister Cathode (a.k.a. Cathy) is delighted, and anxious to help mom and dad assemble little Flange. But, like grownups throughout time, mom Diode shoos Cathy aside, certain this is a job for adults. When little Flange proves more difficult to assemble than predicted, Di calls in her brother, Manifold. In stereotypical male style, Manny eschews the directions and makes a few “improvements.” As family and friends gather with treats (mmm, greased gears!) to celebrate the new baby, Di, ignoring Cathy’s insistence that updates need to be installed, initiates Flange, with disastrous results. But wise Cathy has a scheme. With the assistance of robopet Sprocket, Cathy distracts the adults long enough to rebuild the baby according to the plans, saving the day and the family. But wait! There’s more! What’s this left in the box? In classic, understated Wiesner style, Robobaby pokes fun at adult behavior. Brief speech bubbles contain the minimal text, leaving the creative artwork to captivate the reader’s attention. Young readers will relate to Cathy’s annoyance at being pushed aside, and celebrate her success in getting little Flange operational at last. As always, Wiesner’s illustrations beg for multiple viewings to fully appreciate their detailed cleverness.

THOUGHTS: Children young and old will enjoy the story of big sister Cathy saving the day for the bumbling adults with their all-too-familiar behaviors, as well as soak up the rich, engrossing illustrations. The story only improves with subsequent readings. Another winner from Wiesner. 

Picture Book          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Elem. – Facts vs Opinions vs Robots

Rex, Michael. Facts vs Opinions vs Robots. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2020. 978-1-984-81626-9. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.

Robots are the perfect way to teach kids about facts and opinions! Micheal Rex has created a new book using colorful robots! One of these may be true, and one is my opinion, and I bet you are savvy enough to know which is which – hopefully because an educator or librarian guided you! This very creative story is entertaining to read and goes thoughtfully through the process of identifying facts and opinions and then giving example scenarios to determine how to handle the differences. Just as importantly, young students learn what to do when not enough information is available to sort fact or opinion. The dialogue with the reader and listeners is authentic, fun, and practical- just like robots – in my humble opinion!

THOUGHTS: This was my favorite Zoom read aloud during the spring, as it was interactive, fun, and instructional all at once. There are ample extensions that you can make with classes, and it would be valuable to reread at several points during the year. Highly recommended title for K-2 collections.

Picture Book          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

A book all about facts, opinions, and robots! Take an adventure together to learn about the difference between facts and opinions with our robot friends. A fact is something that can be proven true or false, while an opinion is something that we feel or believe! Sometimes in order to learn new information, we need more information! Together we can learn about facts and opinions and help our robot friends learn, too!

THOUGHTS: I absolutely love this book! This is a great learning tool for teachers to discuss the difference between facts and opinion.

121 Fact/Opinion          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD