by Vicky Fang; illus. by Christine Nishiyama
80 pages; ages 5-7
Scholastic (Branches), 2021
I love books that incorporate STEAM elements in an organic way. So, when Vicky told the STEAM Team group that she had a new Layla & the Bots coming out this summer, I could not wait to read it. Fortunately for me, Vicky sent me an arc to satisfy my STEM-y sweet tooth.
Layla is a rock star, performing in a band with her bots. She is also an inventor, and in each book in the series, she uses her engineering and technical know-how to solve a problem. In this book she’s invited to perform at the community center grand opening. But the people in charge of the event are worried they won’t get the crowd they’re hoping for.
Food always brings people together. But what kind of food? Layla decides she needs a survey.
What I like about this: a survey is a great way to collect information (data). But it’s not useful unless you have a way to analyze that information. So we get to see Layla graph survey results. This is cool – and is something any kid old enough to read this book can do. Heck, my kids were collecting data and graphing M&M colors at this age. (“Mom… we need another bag of M&Ms!”)
Once they discover that folks like cupcakes, the obvious next-step is to design and build a machine that bakes cupcakes and frosts them.
The machine works! But… the first person to test it asks it to do something unexpected. And that causes problems which must be fixed before the grand opening. The clock is ticking … can Layla and the Bots debug the code and fix the machine in time?
Another thing I like: The problem that’s posed is how to build a machine that allows for personal choice in the baking, frosting, and decorating of cupcakes. Maybe it will get some kids wondering how decisions are made.
And – at the back there’s a Build Your Own activity. Not a cupcake machine – that would be too hard! But a fun extendable grabber arm.
On Wednesday I chatted with Vicky about why she’s so keen on integrating technology, engineering, and coding in her kid’s stories. Check it out at the GROG blog.
Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we’ll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge’s blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review ARC provided by the author.