As is to be expected in a children’s book about building a robot, hijinks ensue, such as Charlie (the robot) breaking things, shoving Billy’s clothes in the wrong drawer, and putting plates in the garbage can. Amidst all the gentle chaos, Billy’s family is supportive, cheering on the friends, and encouraging Billy to keep trying and to keep creating art. Their encouragement is gentle, leaving him room to make his own decisions, a model for letting children learn to problem solve. Through it all, the family is smiling and having fun with each other, even including Charlie the robot.
Billy is a thoughtful, curious, creative, and loving character who is easy to root for, especially as he navigates troubleshooting and figuring out what he doesn’t want to miss out on, like spending time with his family. Maria Gabriela Gama’s line art is minimalist yet immersive, with plenty of details to keep readers engaged, and expressive through character faces and small humorous details like Billy’s dad’s shirt which says “I REPORT TO ME.” A refreshing and heartfelt twist on STEM concepts and family themes, Brainy Billy Builds a Bot will be a welcome addition to home or classroom libraries.
Takeaway: Creativity and heart combine in this humorous tale of a boy and a robot.
Comparable Titles: Kim Norman’s The Bot That Scott Built, Ashley Spires’s The Most Magnificent Thing
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A