Monday, September 2, 2019

Review - Stop! Bot!

Stop! Bot!
by James Yang
Date: 2019
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: library

Rear Window meets Wes Anderson meets Richard Scarry in this fun picture book follow-up to Bus! Stop!

In this very young picture book mystery, a little boy out for a walk with his family stops to show a building doorman his new "bot": "I have a bot!" Only he doesn't have it for long, because it floats up out of his hands like an escaped balloon. "Stop! Bot!" Springing to action, the kind doorman runs up to each floor of the building to try and catch it -- along with the help of each floor's resident. But while everything looks normal at first, every floor (and resident) is a little more wacky and unusual than the last! Musicians, baseball players, zoo animals, and finally a very large monkey all play a part -- but will they rescue the Bot before it's too late?! Children will love all the funny details in this very playful picture book!

(synopsis from Goodreads)

"Rear Window meets Wes Anderson meets Richard Scarry"? Um... okay. I'm sure that's what every parent is looking for in their children's picture books.

This is a very simple concept book that I've actually seen done better before... a long time ago. In this iteration, a boy loses his "bot" (it's really more of a drone) as it flies upward next to a skyscraper. As the doorman goes chasing upward, various residents of the building are shown trying to help. Most of the "help" is rather ridiculous (there's everything from ten-foot-long utensils to a giraffe), and the ending--a nod to another old story--actually makes the most sense. It's somewhat amusing, but the story is fairly thin and obviously intended for very young readers. The main appeal of this book will probably be looking at what's going on in the various apartments as the doorman goes chasing after the bot.

So where have I seen this done better? In Peter Newell's The Rocket Book, which I read earlier this year. In that book, a boy lights a rocket in the basement of a tall building, and as it goes smashing up through the various floors, each tenant's reaction is described in jaunty rhyme. Newell's book was written in 1912, and there are some dated bits, but I far prefer to it Yang's simplified version. Perhaps Stop! Bot! would be suitable for younger children until they can better appreciate The Rocket Book. Stop! Bot! isn't bad; it's just a little too sparse and simple except for the youngest of readers.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.5 out of 5

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