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Brainy Billy Builds a Bot
Brainy Billy, an incessantly creative young boy, loves to do almost everything, from building things to sketching chalk masterpieces on his front porch. When he builds a robot named Charlie to do his chores while he prepares for a street art competition, Charlie quickly creates more problems than he solves. But, Billy learns valuable lessons about the magic of inspiration, the joy of helping his family, and the utter impossibility of training a perfect robot overnight!
Frustrated by having his drawing time repeatedly being interrupted to do housework, Billy comes up with a brilliant invention—a robot who can do all the chores he doesn’t want to do so he can focus on drawing—but when things don’t go as planned, Billy learns a lesson about balance and spending time with family. A humorous and heartwarming look at the role technology has in our lives as well as the meaning and value of work, Brainy Billy Builds a Bot uses rhyme and vibrant, colorful illustrations to win over young readers and caregivers and parents alike.

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

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A