Children’s Fiction Reviews: Weird Little Robots & Beverly, Right Here

More fabulous children’s lit to talk about, dear readers! On review today, I have the illustrated chapter book Weird Little Robots by Carolyn Crimi, with illustrations by Corinna Luyken, and book three in Kate DiCamillo’s Three Rancheros series called Beverly, Right Here. Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada and Candlewick Press…and, as ever, happy reading!

That afternoon, just as she was about to leave the shed, she smiled at all the robots.
“Looks like I have a friend after all,” she said.
As she was turning to leave, she heard a strange whirring behind her. She spun around, but all she could she were the robots lined up on the table.

Children’s author Carolyn Crimi (writer of picture books such as There Might Be Lobsters and I Am the Boss of This Chair) teams up with My Heart and The Book of Mistakes illustrator Corinna Luyken to bring readers the wonderfully unusual and heartfelt chapter book Weird Little Robots. When readers meet protagonist Penny Rose Mooney, they learn three important things: one, that Penny Rose can build incredible miniature robots; two, that Penny Rose does not have a best friend; and three, something…peculiar… seems to happening lately with her robots. Penny Rose has Arvid (her cat), her parents, and her array of robots, so it seems like having a best friend isn’t really necessary. However, while celebrating her birthday with her parents and cat, Penny Rose thinks that sharing a slice of birthday cake with a best friend might be a rather lovely thing. After considering how she might approach and make friends with her “mysterious” goggle-wearing neighbor and classmate, Lark Hinkle, a slightly bumpy and awkward encounter leads to the beginnings of a genuine friendship. One in which Penny Rose not only shows her beloved robots to an amazed Lark, but also one in which Penny Rose tells Lark that she thinks her robots might actually be alive. An invitation to a super secret science club at school that makes a point to exclude Lark fractures parts of the new friendship, but a brazen move by a jealous classmate to steal Penny Rose’s robots just might bring the two back together. With dynamic, oh so perfect black and white illustrations by Corinna Luyken throughout (the characters beam off the page), Carolyn Crimi’s compact novel is rich with important subject matter and magic woven throughout. Speaking to friendship, loyalty, robotics, bullies, and the wonder of what happens when you believe in the impossible, Crimi and Luyken’s novel is an affecting and uncanny story, perfect for fans of authors such as Michelle Cuevas, Kallie George, or Sara Pennypacker.

She kept her eyes closed for what seemed like a long time. When she opened them and lifted her head, she saw words glinting in the glass above her.
She read the words out loud: “In a crooked little house by a crooked little sea.”
It was like the beginning of a story.
In a crooked little house by a crooked little sea.

From Newbery award-winning author Kate DiCamillo, Beverly, Right Here is the third entry in the Three Rancheros series. In Raymie Nightingale, readers met the first protagonist in the trio of unlikely friends, Raymie Clarke; in Louisiana’s Way Home, our attention turned to Louisiana Elefante; now, in book three, readers get the chance to spend some time with Beverly Tapinski. After reading and relishing the heart of Raymie Nightingale and the gorgeousness of Louisiana’s Way Home, I was eager to dive into Beverly, Right Here: I could not wait to learn more about the third friend that, up to this point, readers had known the least about. DiCamillo opens Beverly, Right Here with a thunder of an opening sentence, leading readers quickly, heartbreakingly- and very directly- into the mind, heart, and life of Beverly Tapinski. It is 1979 and Beverly is only fourteen years old when she decides to really, truly run away; she catches a ride out of town with her not-so-pleasant older cousin and she is soon gone. Beverly arrives in a new seaside town and miraculously finds work at a seafood restaurant (even though she hates seafood) and finds a temporary place to rest her eyes and heart in the home of a remarkable elderly woman named Iola. Surprising herself when she allows the smallest of bonds to form with Iola and a young teen named Elmer, Beverly also finds herself thinking about meanings of home, her future, her absent, alcoholic mother, loss, loneliness…and Raymie. DiCamillo truly excels in crafting and drawing standout characters and breathtaking, simultaneously life-affirming and devastating moments that brush against every raw emotion in one’s heart. Beverly, Right Here is as beautifully written, emotionally resonant and surprising as the previous Three Rancheros titles, lit with moments of humour and moments of the extraordinary. Highly recommended reading and definitely one for those who have enjoyed DiCamillo’s other middle-grade offerings and the other two titles in the Three Rancheros series.

I received copies of these titles courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada/Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own. Titles have been published and are currently available.

Author: michelle@fabbookreviews

Reference & Children's Librarian. Reader. Reviewer.

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