One of my 2020 highlights was participating as a round 1 judge in the easy reader/ early chapter book categories for the Cybils Awards recognizing children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal.
LAYLA and the BOTS: Happy Paws and LAYLA and the BOTS: Built for Speed are two standout books read by the judges. Written by Vicky Fang and illustrated by Christine Nishiyama, these are the first two in a new early chapter book series in the Branches line published by Scholastic.
Layla is a Rockstar and an inventor who has built three bots – Beep, Boop, and Bop. (How cool is that?) Together they solve problems in their town by designing and building inventions using technology.
In LAYLA and the BOTS: Happy Paws, Layla and her bots are scheduled to perform at the amusement park but it looks like the park will close due to lack of attendance. People are having more fun at the dog park! Using her technological skills, Layla and her bots solve the problem by building a special roller coaster for the dogs.
In Book 2, LAYLA and the BOTS: Built for Speed, Layla is excited about performing at the upcoming go-kart race. Unfortunately, the go-carts won’t work for their friend Tina who uses a wheel chair. Using their skills, they adapt and create the perfect vehicle for Tina.
You will want to add these books to your shelves because:
- They are written in a graphic novel format with bright colors and easy to read text. The dialogue is all in speech bubbles which helps emerging readers identify who is speaking.
- The books include diverse characters. Layla is a black girl and the town’s residents are characters of different ethnicities, ages, and abilities.
- The bots each have their own personalities and they use special skills of knowledge, building, and coding to help with the inventions.
- Layla and her bot crew use STEAM to identifying and creatively solve problems. Their initial attempts fail so they have to identify what went wrong and adjust their calculations to build a successful invention.
- Each book includes instructions for readers to build their own inventions in the backmatter.
These fun transitional chapter books are sure to be a hit with young readers who love dogs, things that go, robots, and inventing!
For more information and STEAM activities to go with the books, visit Vicky Fang at her website.