Book Reviews

Even Robots Can Dream
The picture book Little Bot and Sparrow by Jake Parker is an endearing tale. Little Bot is a small robot discarded on the trash heap because he is no longer useful. He meets a sparrow who decides Little Bot needs some help navigating his new world of freedom. A sweet friendship grows. as Sparrow teaches Little Bot about the beauty, wonder, and risks in her natural world. As the year moves through the seasons, Sparrow tells Little Bot that she must fly away and leave him because winter’s coming. Little Bot misses her when she is gone. But, she leaves him with the gift of possibility as he continues to grow and experience the wonders in life.
I like this story because it is simple yet deep. It is about friendship, love, and growth. Parker’s illustrations are warm and gentle. The humanity he instills in Little Bot draws the reader in to experience the changes of the seasons, as well as personal changes of Little Bot. Parker takes us through a year in vibrant rich color. Readers and listeners can learn about the cyclical nature of the seasons and migration, as well as learning about hope. We see that even with loss there is often some gain. (Roaring Book Press/MacMillan, 2016) Four stars.

 

YOU ARE ONLY AS INVISIBLE AS YOU FEEL
Greetings, Readers! My first (ever) blog post is a review of a marvelous book I just finished reading. “Confessions of an Imaginary Friend” by Michelle Cuevas (Dial Books, 2015) offers us an entertaining and educational foray into the world of imaginary friends. Jacques Papier is a boy (or so he thinks) who is Fleur’s twin.
The story, told from Jacques’s perspective begins with, “THE WORLD HATES JACQUES PAPIER!” Demoralizing things happen to him, such as the teacher never calls on him, his parents sometimes forget to kiss him goodnight, the bus driver drives right past his stop when he’s standing there alone, and he NEVER is chosen for team games – even when he’s the last one standing. The only person who truly notices him and knows what he’s thinking and what he wants and needs is his twin sister Fleur.
Eventually, it becomes clear to Jacques that he is truly invisible to everyone except Fleur, other imaginaries, and his despicable nemesis the dog Francoise. After this shocking and depressing discovery he joins “Imaginaries Anonymous”, a support group. There he learns about the Reassignment Office, a sort of employment agency for imaginaries which is a hilarious example of your typical governmental bureaucracy.
Jacques soon decides to leave his beloved Fleur and sets out on a quest to become “real”. Cuevas takes us into the secret world of imaginary friends – their lives, their hopes, their dreams, their fears. In reading “Confessions”, we and Jacques learn valuable lessons about friendship, commitment, and love. We also get a glimpse of what makes us important. As Jacques’s friend, Roller-Skating Cowgirl tells him, “You are only invisible as you feel.”
This story is filled with laugh-out-loud scenes and unexpected twists. Jacques learns what we all should hope to learn – to be the person he was meant to be while helping others along the way. This story has a sweet and satisfying ending. The only thing it lacked was just one more chapter with the unsinkable Jacques Papier.
The hardbound book has 268 pages, with occasional black and white illustrations (by Cuevas). This is a middle-grade novel (ages 9-12) (but this kidult loved it). Highly recommended. Five stars.

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