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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: robots, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. This is happening now…

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/16/business/lake-jibo-robot/ And there is a story there. I’m certain! Here’s another link to “JIBO” if you’re interested in seeing more, or being creeped out of your own skin. Either way, here you go: http://www.myjibo.com/Filed under: writing for children Tagged: family robots, indiegogo, JIBO, MIT, robots

4 Comments on This is happening now…, last added: 9/15/2014
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2. Nick Bostrom on artificial intelligence

From mechanical turks to science fiction novels, our mobile phones to The Terminator, we’ve long been fascinated by machine intelligence and its potential — both good and bad. We spoke to philosopher Nick Bostrom, author of Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, about a number of pressing questions surrounding artificial intelligence and its potential impact on society.

Are we living with artificial intelligence today?

Mostly we have only specialized AIs – AIs that can play chess, or rank search engine results, or transcribe speech, or do logistics and inventory management, for example. Many of these systems achieve super-human performance on narrowly defined tasks, but they lack general intelligence.

There are also experimental systems that have fully general intelligence and learning ability, but they are so extremely slow and inefficient that they are useless for any practical purpose.

AI researchers sometimes complain that as soon as something actually works, it ceases to be called ‘AI’. Some of the techniques used in routine software and robotics applications were once exciting frontiers in artificial intelligence research.

What risk would the rise of a superintelligence pose?

It would pose existential risks – that is to say, it could threaten human extinction and the destruction of our long-term potential to realize a cosmically valuable future.

Would a superintelligent artificial intelligence be evil?

Hopefully it will not be! But it turns out that most final goals an artificial agent might have would result in the destruction of humanity and almost everything we value, if the agent were capable enough to fully achieve those goals. It’s not that most of these goals are evil in themselves, but that they would entail sub-goals that are incompatible with human survival.

For example, consider a superintelligent agent that wanted to maximize the number of paperclips in existence, and that was powerful enough to get its way. It might then want to eliminate humans to prevent us from switching if off (since that would reduce the number of paperclips that are built). It might also want to use the atoms in our bodies to build more paperclips.

Most possible final goals, it seems, would have similar implications to this example. So a big part of the challenge ahead is to identify a final goal that would truly be beneficial for humanity, and then to figure out a way to build the first superintelligence so that it has such an exceptional final goal. How to do this is not yet known (though we do now know that several superficially plausible approaches would not work, which is at least a little bit of progress).

How long have we got before a machine becomes superintelligent?

Nobody knows. In an opinion survey we did of AI experts, we found a median view that there was a 50% probability of human-level machine intelligence being developed by mid-century. But there is a great deal of uncertainty around that – it could happen much sooner, or much later. Instead of thinking in terms of some particular year, we need to be thinking in terms of probability distributed across a wide range of possible arrival dates.

So would this be like Terminator?

There is what I call a “good-story bias” that limits what kind of scenarios can be explored in novels and movies: only ones that are entertaining. This set may not overlap much with the group of scenarios that are probable.

For example, in a story, there usually have to be humanlike protagonists, a few of which play a pivotal role, facing a series of increasingly difficult challenges, and the whole thing has to take enough time to allow interesting plot complications to unfold. Maybe there is a small team of humans, each with different skills, which has to overcome some interpersonal difficulties in order to collaborate to defeat an apparently invincible machine which nevertheless turns out to have one fatal flaw (probably related to some sort of emotional hang-up).

One kind of scenario that one would not see on the big screen is one in which nothing unusual happens until all of a sudden we are all dead and then the Earth is turned into a big computer that performs some esoteric computation for the next billion years. But something like that is far more likely than a platoon of square-jawed men fighting off a robot army with machine guns.

Futuristic man. © Vladislav Ociacia via iStock.
Futuristic man. © Vladislav Ociacia via iStock.

If machines became more powerful than humans, couldn’t we just end it by pulling the plug? Removing the batteries?

It is worth noting that even systems that have no independent will and no ability to plan can be hard for us to switch off. Where is the off-switch to the entire Internet?

A free-roaming superintelligent agent would presumably be able to anticipate that humans might attempt to switch it off and, if it didn’t want that to happen, take precautions to guard against that eventuality. By contrast to the plans that are made by AIs in Hollywood movies – which plans are actually thought up by humans and designed to maximize plot satisfaction – the plans created by a real superintelligence would very likely work. If the other Great Apes start to feel that we are encroaching on their territory, couldn’t they just bash our skulls in? Would they stand a much better chance if every human had a little off-switch at the back of our necks?

So should we stop building robots?

The concern that I focus on in the book has nothing in particular to do with robotics. It is not in the body that the danger lies, but in the mind that a future machine intelligence may possess. Where there is a superintelligent will, there can most likely be found a way. For instance, a superintelligence that initially lacks means to directly affect the physical world may be able to manipulate humans to do its bidding or to give it access to the means to develop its own technological infrastructure.

One might then ask whether we should stop building AIs? That question seems to me somewhat idle, since there is no prospect of us actually doing so. There are strong incentives to make incremental advances along many different pathways that eventually may contribute to machine intelligence – software engineering, neuroscience, statistics, hardware design, machine learning, and robotics – and these fields involve large numbers of people from all over the world.

To what extent have we already yielded control over our fate to technology?

The human species has never been in control of its destiny. Different groups of humans have been going about their business, pursuing their various and sometimes conflicting goals. The resulting trajectory of global technological and economic development has come about without much global coordination and long-term planning, and almost entirely without any concern for the ultimate fate of humanity.

Picture a school bus accelerating down a mountain road, full of quibbling and carousing kids. That is humanity. But if we look towards the front, we see that the driver’s seat is empty.

Featured image credit: Humanrobo. Photo by The Global Panorama, CC BY 2.0 via Flickr

The post Nick Bostrom on artificial intelligence appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Cakes in space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

Imagine packing up your home, leaving Earth and setting out to travel across space to colonise a new planet.

The journey will take so long you’ll be put into a cryptobiotic state. But there is absolutely nothing to fear: You’re on sleek new spaceship, looked after by a team of well-programmed robots, and everything has been carefully thought through. When you finally arrive at Nova Mundi (it only takes 199 years to get there), you’ll be woken up to a delicious breakfast and the start of a whole new and wonderful life.

It sounds great, doesn’t it?

cakesinspacecoverAnd so it is in Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. Astra and her family are on their way to their new home but – you’ve guessed it – something goes wrong. Astra wakes from her suspended sleep, and feeling peckish goes off in search of a chocolate biscuit.

The Nom-O-Tron (a highly developed version of Star Trek’s Replicator) satisfies Astra’s request, but when she’s tempted to ask for something a little more outlandish (how many times have you seen the word “Ultimate” used to describe a dish?) something goes awry. Soon Astra is hurtling through space surrounded by cakes which have learned to evolve. Cakes which are fed up of being eaten themselves. Cakes which have developed a killer instinct.

Will Astra be able to save her family from the Ravenous Crispy Slices and Ferocious Fruit Cakes stalking the spaceship’s corridors? How much more complicated will things get when a second front opens up and her spaceship is raided by alien life forms known as Poglites, desperately searching for their holy grail, that technology which they haven’t been able to master: SPOONS.

Yes, this is a totally surreal and deliciously outrageous story of friendship, ingenuity and hundreds and thousands.

It’s fast-moving, exciting, just ever so slightly scary in that enjoyably adrenalin pumping way and above all it’s FUNNY! Add into the mix some genuinely beautiful writing (sometimes young fiction is all about the plot and the language – especially for an adult reading it aloud – can be somewhat unremarkable, but Reeve at times writes sentences which I found myself wanting to copy out), a plot which will enthral both boys and girls of a wide age range, and the subtle inclusion of some philosophically meatier issues (the consequences of greedy desire, the demonisation of that which we don’t know and can’t name) and you’ve got yourself a remarkable book.

Image: Sarah McIntyre. Please click on the image to be taken to the original blog post - well worth reading!

Image: Sarah McIntyre. Please click on the image to be taken to the original blog post – well worth reading!

McIntyre’s illustrations are a crazy but perfect mix of 1950s brave new world sleekness and outrageous sponge-and-icing based fantasy. I’m delighted that Astra’s family are mixed race (this isn’t mentioned in the text at all, but how great to see some diversity just as-is, without it being an issue in the book).

The top-notch content of Cakes in Space is matched by a stunningly produced physical book. Like last year’s Reeve and McIntyre production, Oliver and the Seawigs, this is first being published as a small hardback in pleasingly chunky, strokingly hand-holdable format. Everything about the book is appealing.

After indulging in a solo read, I read this book aloud to both girls over a couple of days last week. Before we’d even finished the books my girls were off to raid the cutlery draw in the kitchen for highly prized spoons to create a collection of which any Poglite would be proud.

spooncollection1

spooncollection2

Carefully curated, they labelled every spoon with where it had been found in the galaxy, its rarity and its monetary value (I can see how this could develop into a Top Trumps game…)
spooncollection3

Spoons are one thing, but cake is another, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to host our own mini Cakes in Space party. We baked a host of fairy cakes and then turned them into KILLER CAKES…

cakesinspace3

Lollies made great eyes on stalks…

cakesinspace6

… as did Maltesers and Aero balls.

cakesinspace9

We had fun making teeth out of snapped white chocolate buttons, tictacs and rice paper snipped to look like rows of sharp teeth.

cakesinspace10

We also had some Ferocious Florentines and Sinister Swiss Rolls (helped along with edible eyes).

cakesinspace4

cakesinspace5

Other characters from the book were also present: The Nameless Horror was a big bowl of wobbly jelly dyed black with food colouring and with licorice shoelaces reaching out across the table, and jars of purple gloop (thinned down Angel Delight, again dyed to give a good purple colour) with gummy snakes in them made perfect Poglite snacks. Alas these were guzzled before I got to take a photo!

Preparing for the party was at least as much fun as the party itself…

cakesinspace7

Great music for a Cakes in Space party includes:

  • Cake by Mindy Hester & The Time Outs – heavily influenced by George Michael’s Faith
  • Peggy Seeger with Ewan MacColl, “The Space Girl’s Song”
  • I like Pie, I like Cake by the Four Clefs
  • To the Moon by the Mighty Buzzniks
  • Man in the Moon by The Full English. This comes from the album Sarah McIntyre listened to a lot whilst illustrating Cakes in Space.
  • Crunch munchy honey cakes by The Wiggles… not everyone’s cup of tea but it is sort of earwormy…
  • Other activities which would make for a great Cakes in Space party include:

  • COSTUMES! Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve have the most amazing Cakes in Space costumes (you can see them here), but if you want some inspiration for your own costumes you could try these: Using a bucket and plastic tray to create an astronaut costume as per Spoonful, how to create a papier-mâché helmet on StitchCraftCreations, a Pinterest board dedicated to cake costumes.
  • ROBOTS! I’d pile a load of “junk” from the recycling bin on the table and let the kids loose on designing and building their own robots or spaceships. NurtureStore has some ideas to get you going.
  • SLEEPING PODS! For the grown ups at the party if no-one else… You could use large cardboard boxes painted silver lined with duvets, and with the lids cut out and replaced with something see-through, with bottle tops/lids stuck on for the various buttons… you get the idea!
  • We’ve all heard of Death by Chocolate, but what’s the nearest you’ve come to being killed by a cake?

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Cakes in Space from the publishers.

    4 Comments on Cakes in space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre, last added: 8/18/2014
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    4. You're a robot. I'm a robot. Everyone's a robot!

    Robots were everywhere in the Children's Room this summer.  Our robot photo-spot offered our patrons a chance to be a "robot".  The fun was not limited to our patrons, however.  Your library staff also got in on the fun.  

    Take a look:


    Thanks for being such good sports everyone!

     
    Posted by Amy



    0 Comments on You're a robot. I'm a robot. Everyone's a robot! as of 8/7/2014 3:30:00 PM
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    5. Excited about Monstrous: Hire Power from Greg Wright & Ken Lamug

    Over the last month, I’ve been working with Greg Wright on a new comic book project called “Monstrous”.

    It’s got steam powered robots & monsters that span the imagination. In this pilot, we meet a little girl who has to team up with a monster for hire to avenge her father’s death. What I love about MONSTROUS, is that it has the “IT” factor that I believe will be enjoyed by young and old. It has fun moments, scary moments and head turning moments.

    Sometimes I wish could just read the entire series already instead of having to create it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy working on it (trust me – it’s a blast)… it’s the fact that I have to wait on my slow butt to finish it. Ha!

    09b87c98e82a834fa75efc008f2723d6_large

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    6. The Unable Label

    As a teenager, I often receive the label of unable: unable to make a difference; unable to make an impact; unable to make important decisions. Yet when I see two teenage girls start a non-profit organization dedicated to developing robotics programs in their community and beyond, I know the unable labels are wrong.

    Stumbling across Robot Springboard was somewhat of an accident: I was actually looking into starting a non-profit organization of my own geared towards robotics community service. When I found their startlingly professional and passionate website, I knew my plans were about to change. Rather than founding a similar foundation of my own, I decided to reach out to junior fraternal twins Hannah and Rachael Tipperman and join forces with them.

    Yet the Tipperman twins haven’t needed much help so far. Robot Springboard has been underway for over three years now, starting off in the summer between their ninth and tenth grade year. Most young people at this age are spending summer days lazing about in the sun by a pool but not Hannah and Rachael. In just thirty-six short months, these two ladies have managed to transform a simple idea into a fully functional non-profit organization. In 2013, the Tippermans launched a week-long robotics workshop for middle-school girls at Drexel University. After receiving an AspireIT grant from The National Center for Women and Information Technology, Hannah and Rachael contacted the computer science head at Drexel University. To their delight, the entire engineering department at Drexel was ecstatic at the idea. Within a few weeks, the camp was successfully launched.

    Beyond single workshops, they have also managed to supply year-long programs. BrightStart robotics, an expansion of Robot Springboard, is geared towards younger children and their parents. Right now, they are hosting hour-and-a-half long seminars at their local library that include NXT robot kits. The kids design complete robots out of lego pieces before programming them to run through mazes using laptop computers. It is amazing what these young minds are learning and doing through this organization!

    NXT Robot

    Success did not come right away for the Tipperman sisters, however. At first, they were turned down by their local library to even host a lobby display about simple robotics programs for kids. But the twins refused to be derailed. Through much sweat and toil, they are now performing monthly BrightStart robotics demonstrations at their library. Even more, the Tipperman sisters are going global this summer. After doing some research, the girls realized that Costa Rica is not involved in the FIRST Lego League—a middle-school organization geared towards having kids design Lego robots to compete in competitive games. Upon learning this, Hannah and Rachael knew they had to open a camp in Costa Rica to try and bring robotics and technology into young Costa Rican lives. They will be running not one but two camps in Costa Rica this summer.

    When they’re not flying down to Costa Rica, Hannah and Rachael are reaching out nationally through their “Robotics in a Box” program. Interested customers can request a box, which includes two NXT Mindstorm robot kits, two HP laptops with included NXT software, and educational books from their NXT robot kit library.

    After seeing their intentions to go national, I realized I could help Hannah and Rachael with their incredible mission. Currently, I am trying to bring Robot Springboard and BrightStart Robotics into the Colorado area. As a newcomer, I am facing the struggles that the Tipperman sisters first confronted. The NXT robot kits cost nearly three-hundred dollars apiece, not to mention the cost of laptops. But the thought of inspiring the youth through robotics programs and STEM programs keeps me going.

    If you have any old laptops that have been outdated (maybe ones with a Windows XP operating system) or are of no longer of use to you, feel free to contact me at Kalin.Natalie@hotmail.com.

    Also, check out the Tipperman’s inspiring website at http://www.robotspringboard.org/about-us-2/about-us.html

    With these two girls, the unable label will surely disappear soon.

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    7. Expiration Day: William Campbell Powell

    Book: Expiration Day
    Author: William Campbell Powell
    Pages: 336
    Age Range: 12 and up

    Expiration Day is set in a dystopian near-future England a generation after fertility levels have dropped precipitously world-wide. Hardly any babies are born anymore, though most people don't realize how bad the situation is, because they parents are able to purchase uncannily lifelike robotic children. These children don't even know (unless some incident occurs) whether they are human or not.

    Expiration Day is related primarily as the diary of a girl named Tania, who lives with her parents just outside of London. Tania's diary has somehow been discovered, "encrypted and forgotten, but surviving through uncounted millennia" by someone from a future alien race. His comments and responses to Tania's story are included as brief "intervals" throughout the story. The title refers to the fact that the robot children must be returned to their manufacturer on their 18th birthday - the parents have them only lease. 

    The world in Expiration Day is reminiscent in tone to that of P.D. James' Children of Men. In Willam Campbell Powell's world, however, the artificial children serve to keep society under control, filling an innate need that people have to form families and pass things along to a future generation (even if that generation expires at age 18). 

    I found the philosophical underpinnings of Expiration Day thought-provoking. And I quite liked Tania as a character. Parts of the book, which begins when Tania is only 11, drag a little bit, plot-wise. But my concern for Tania's fate kept me reading. The end includes a couple of twists (one of which I'm still trying to wrap my head around), which will keep readers guessing. 

    One thing that I really liked about Expiration Day was the importance of Tania's father as a character. Not a placeholder, or someone to be rescued, as is a common convention in books, but an intelligent, caring man who puts everything on the line in support of his daughter. 

    Here are a couple of snippets, to give you a feel for Tania's voice:

    "There's a word for legs like mine. Gangly. I count my knees, sometimes, and I know I have just two, one on each leg. But dressed like that, I felt like it was more--a lot more, with different numbers on each leg." (Page 18)

    "I love words, though, and I wish I could control them better. Like Humpty Dumpty, to have them line up and do my bidding. So I read, as I said, from Chaucer and Shakespeare, via Dylan Thomas and Rupert Brooke, to Ray Bradbury and Roger Zelazny, and try to see how they get their words to behave." (Page 182)

    "Nobody truly dies who shapes another person. Does that make sense, Mister Zog?" (page 227)

    Fans of speculative and dystopian fiction, particularly that which questions what makes someone human in the presence of advanced technology (like The Adoration of Jenna Fox), won't want to miss Expiration Day. Tania's participation in a band, and her issues with dating and growing up, are also addressed, and make the book accessible to those who prefer more realistic coming-of-age fiction. For those who need to know, there are discussions about having sex (including a boy who wants to), but no real action to speak of in Expiration Day. This is a book that will stay with me, and made me think. I learned about it from this review at Ms. Yingling Reads

    Publisher: Tor Teen (@TorTeen)
    Publication Date: April 22, 2014
    Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

    FTC Required Disclosure:

    This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

    © 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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    8. LEGO Building: 5 Kid-Approved LEGO Books

    All the excitement surrounding The LEGO Movie sparked a renewed interest in the venerable building toys at my house. The following books that include all kinds of tips, ideas and techniques to re-purpose existing LEGO pieces for all sorts of fantastic creations.

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    9. Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot - in color!

    Pilkey, Dav. 2014. Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot. New York: Scholastic. Illustrations by Dan Santat.

    While at ALA Midwinter, I picked up an Advance Reader Copy of Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot. I know what you're thinking - that's not a new book, that was published ages ago!  Yes, but it's back again, and this time in full color, with glossy pages and new "mini-comics" inside.

    All of the Ricky Ricotta books will be reissued with new illustrations, and two brand new books are planned for January and March of 2015.  A big campaign is in the works ... stay tuned.

    Read an excerpt and see the new illustrations on Scholastic's new Ricky Ricotta web page.

    Coming to a bookshelf near you on April 29, 2014.

    BTW, my Advance Reader Copy went home with a very happy young boy, one of my best readers. He was looking for my library's "checked-out" copy of the original Ricky Ricotta's Giant Robot. Imagine the smile on his face when I gave him a new, as yet unpublished, full-color copy! (Luckily, I had read it at lunchtime.)

    The original Ricky Ricotta artist, Martin Ontiveros deserves credit for helping to create a series that captured the imagination of a nearly a generation of children.  Dan Santat will refresh the series for the next generation.  Long live Dav Pilkey!






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    10. The Winter of the Robots: Kurtis Scaletta

    Book: The Winter of the Robots
    Author: Kurtis Scaletta
    Pages: 272
    Age Range: 10 and up

    The Winter of the Robots by Kurtis Scaletta is a fun, science-themed mystery, perfect for middle schoolers. First-person narrator Jim lives in a slightly run-down neighborhood in North Minneapolis. He and his best friend Oliver are science geeks. But when Jim chooses a girl named Rocky as his partner for a science project, instead of working with Oliver, he sets a series of unexpected events in motion. Joined by Oliver's replacement partner Dmitri, the four young teens discover a mysterious junkyard, and the suggestion of robots living in the wild. 

    There's a lot to like about The Winter of the Robots. The chilly Minneapolis winter setting feels authentic, as do the friend and sibling relationships. Jim's little sister, Penny, is a strong character, as is Rocky, a girl who wants to get her hands dirty. Penny is a bit of a pest, but smart, too. Jim's dad is realistically flawed, with a barely controlled temper. There's a nice scene in which Jim starts to see his dad clearly, something that is certainly part of growing up. All in all, I thought Scaletta did a nice job of allowing freedom for Jim and his friends to accomplish something meaningful, while still having concerned parents. 

    Here's Rocky to Jim, after he sees her work a snowblower:

    "My dad has taught me how to do everything. He says women get cheated out of learning stuff. I've changed the oil on a car. I've run an electric drill and a power saw. I even welded once." (Page 32)

    And here's Oliver. 

    "That's what scientists do. They revise an idea, evolve it, and make it better." Both of Oliver's parents were scientists, so he would know. He was a mad scientist in training. He already had the brilliant mind, the wild hair, and the thick glasses. All he needed was a hunchbacked assistant." (Page 4)

    Scaletta also manages to include some diversity among the characters. Dmitri has a minor disability, and spends time helping his autistic younger brother. Several adults from the neighborhood play a role in the kids' adventures, and not all of them are upstanding citizens.

    As you would expect from a book called The Winter of the Robots, there is a ton of information here about how to build robots. The technical parts are well-integrated into the text, such that the book doesn't feel informational (Jim is learning as he builds things). It may even inspire young readers to become involved in building robots themselves. Some of the technical details dragged a little bit for me as an adult reader (who isn't particularly interested in building robots), but I liked the positive portrayal of kids who are smart and passionate about science.

    Apart from that, I though that the plot has a nice pace, and a good use of red herrings and innuendo. There are a fair number of characters to keep track of, and one of them does come to a bad end (offstage). While perhaps a bit difficult for 8 or 9 year olds, I think The Winter of the Robots will be a nice addition to the reading options for mystery- and/or tech-loving middle schoolers. While clearly aimed at boys, the presence of two strong female characters (Rocky and Penny) keeps it girl-friendly, too. There's a smidgen of boy-girl relationship dynamics, but nothing for anyone to worry about. Recommended for readers age 10 and up. 

    Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)  
    Publication Date: October 8, 2013
    Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

    FTC Required Disclosure:

    This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

    © 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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    11. review#393 – When Edgar Met Cecil by Kevin Luthardt

    .. . .   .    .     .  . PEACHTREE BOOK BLOG TOUR When Edgar Met Cecil by Kevin Luthardt Peachtree Publishers 5 Stars .. Inside Jacket:  When Edgar’s family moves to a new town, everything seems strange and scary.  The kids look funny.  They dress weird.  They listen to bizarre music.  They …

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    12. Robot Dreams written and illustrated by Sarah Varon, 208 pp

    First reviewed on 5/26/10, Robot Dreams made me an instant Sara Varon fan. I discovered this wordless graphic novel in a library and had to own it. I love robots, but even more than that, I love the worlds and the characters that Varon creates. Her work is always thoughtful, funny, and a little bit weird and her palette is always colorful but calm, depicting a world I'd be happy to visit.

    0 Comments on Robot Dreams written and illustrated by Sarah Varon, 208 pp as of 7/28/2013 3:30:00 AM
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    13. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks, 288 pp, RL TEEN

    <!-- START INTERCHANGE - NOTHING CAN POSSIBLY GO WRONG -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks. As with Hicks's fantastic graphic novel Friends with Boys, Nothing Can Possibly

    0 Comments on Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks, 288 pp, RL TEEN as of 5/14/2013 4:33:00 AM
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    14. BinocuBot

    Look at YOU, May Robot of the Month!

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    15. Simple Awesome Robots

    Inspired by the many, many wonderful robot crafts online, here is my version of a super simple cardboard tube robot.  I posted directions here.


    0 Comments on Simple Awesome Robots as of 3/6/2013 10:24:00 AM
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    16. Karagoz: a visual smorgasbord of fun

    Karagoz 

    Contributors: Thomas WellmannNadine RedlichWarwick Johnson Cadwell,  Olaf AlbersMax FiedlerRita FürstenauLompMichael MeierLisa Röper and Andreas Schuster.

    karagoz Karagoz: a visual smorgasbord of fun

    I’m delighted comics anthology Karagoz is finally available online  for everybody to buy. It’s an anthology I enjoyed immensely after picking it up at Thought Bubble last year from contributor Warwick Johnson Cadwell’s table, having been instantly drawn by that great cover; a quick flick through being enough to establish this was something worth buying. Karagoz is, above else, simply a  visual smorgasbord and a really fun read. And not enough comics are fun- either they’re busy trying to propagate certain messages or addressing specific issues or being experimental. Let’s face it- it’s not the easiest thing to combine fun with more challenging material.

    Which makes it refreshing to read something absorbing and light. The quality of illustration on display here is a sky-high stand-out point, from Nadine Redlich’s covers to Rita Furstenau’s 4 page mythic folk-tale and wonderfully detailed endpapers, to Max Fiedler’s dreamscapes, to Thomas Wellman’s energetic centre-fold ‘Warzards’ spread. There’s so much to take in in these vistas, something going on in every corner, each individual character busily involved in his own shenanigans.

    IMG 00021 Karagoz: a visual smorgasbord of fun

    The comics are pretty good, too. A favourite is Meier’s unnerving ‘Michael’ contemplates the future evolution of the android after David in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Meier hones in on the science fiction trope of what it means to be human, and the inevitable manner in which artificial intelligence prove themselves to be so by mirroring the worst of us: Michael has been programmed to consume and want without ever feeling fulfilled.

    IMG 00011 Karagoz: a visual smorgasbord of fun

    Karagoz is pretty much a humour anthology, and Lomp’s Golge and Schuster’s  Koala Adventures are both similarly amusing in tone: Golge begins with an ominous Galactus-esqe destroyer in the starry night sky but proves to be something else, while Schuster’s shorts see his cute slacker Koala engage in various non-tasks. Cadwell’s Black Imps vignette is imbued with his signature frenetic lines and style and an oozing cool attitude\.

    There is the odd damp squib- Lisa Roper’s Before and After flet out of place, and Olaf Alber’s Kontakwano a little too zany in execution, though his cartooning is fantastic. The length of the stories is kept short, and is interpolated with the double page illustration spreads which keeps things interesting and the pages aturning, never allowing for boredom. Overall, Karagoz is a gem of an anthology and one you would be remiss not to pick up.

    IMG 00041 Karagoz: a visual smorgasbord of fun

    0 Comments on Karagoz: a visual smorgasbord of fun as of 3/1/2013 5:06:00 PM
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    17. Birthday Sketches

    Cosmo the Papillon
    I have been super-swamped lately. Plus, I am preparing to go on vacation to Florence and Milan, Italy mid-March so deadlines are intense til then.

    I squeezed in these sketches for my friend Cheryl's and my nephew's birthdays. Cosmo is a really cute dog. I think it is the ears that make Papillon's adorable.

    As for my nephew's card, he just turned 11. Any excuse to draw giant robots, dragons and mayhem, is a good one.

    Birthday mayhem...

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    18. Librarian Robot

    This Librarian Robot can recommend the perfect book for you to read.

    February 2013 Robot of the Month. 

    As always, prints available in the art store.

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    19. BOY + BOT = You Laughing, You Loving, You Winning!

    I am so absolutely thrilled that BOY + BOT releases today because I’ve been waiting for it for a long, long time.

    It’s the debut picture book by my good friend, Ame Dyckman—and get this—it’s illustrated by the hugely talented Dan Yaccarino! I mean, this has got to be the best picture book EVER with an author-illustrator team just as lovable as Boy and Bot themselves.

    And for this very special day, I’ve got prizes to give away! One AFFIRMATIVELY AWESOME prize pack including BOY + BOT, stickers, bookmarks, and an *exclusive* BOT keychain clip made by author-zoologist-educator-sculptor Jess Keating!

    So let’s get on with the fun!

    TL: So, Ame, you and I have been friends for a few years now, after meeting at NJ-SCBWI first page sessions. (I knew I had to get to know you, with your spiky pink hair and Lego bracelet.) Is that how you began your kidlit career, attending SCBWI events?

    AD: *laughing* Was my hair pink back then? I don’t remember my hair color at the time (it’s blue, now), but I remember thinking, “Wow! This Tara person is funny and nice and she really knows her kidlit! I like her!” BAM! Friends!

    And yes, attending SCBWI events–YAY, NJ SCBWI!–started everything for me! When I first joined, I knew I wanted to write picture books, but I didn’t know how. My first manuscripts were REALLY bad, but nobody made fun of me. Everybody was helpful. (YOU taught me how to page a PB, remember? I still have your diagram!) I went to as many events as I could—First Page Sessions, Mentoring Workshops, Networking Dinners, Annual Conferences, etc. I learned tons—still do!—and met lots of amazing industry professionals and made lots of wonderful friends. At the 2009 NJ SCBWI Annual Conference, I pitched BOY + BOT to Super Agent Scott Treimel, and he said, “I love it! Let’s work together!”

    TL: I distinctly remember the 2009 conference and a certain editor making goo-goo eyes at you during lunch…but he had read your manuscript and was bonkers over BOY + BOT. I thought to myself, GO AME! You could feel the buzz about that manuscript at the event. You were in deep conversation with several agents.

    So we want to know—how did this beep-worthy book idea come about?

    AD: The short answer: I love robots! (I used to doodle robots instead of doing my math homework. Even in college!) The long answer: I love robots and unusual friendship stories and mirror stories always make me laugh, so I hoped mine would make other people laugh, too.

    TL: So BOY + BOT is your debut and it has something like 347 starred industry reviews! Are you thrilled or what?

    AD: I’m SO happy, and really grateful for all the reviewer love. Here’s hoping the little Boys (and Girls!) and Bots that Dan and I made the book for love it, too!

    TL: We’re chatting on the eve of your book’s release. Will you be able to sleep tonight? It’s a little like Christmas Eve, isn’t it?

    AD: It feels like Christmas Eve and Birthday Eve and Leaving-for-Disney-World-Tomorrow Eve all smooshed together! I was up until 3:45 this morning because I was so excited already! (But, I think I’d better try to

    10 Comments on BOY + BOT = You Laughing, You Loving, You Winning!, last added: 4/10/2012
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    20. Picture Book Saturday

    For now, while Elliott is still a little guy, I think I'm going to start doing these Picture Book Saturday posts once a month, focusing on our favorites. That may mean more than just 2-3 books in each post, but that way they're all in one place and I'm not trying to write out a new post every week. If you couldn't already tell, I've been totally slacking at it.

    This month, these are the ones our whole family has really been enjoying:


    The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems

    We love us some Mo Willems in this house! Elliott seems to really enjoy the simple illustrations and Aaron and I love how ridiculously silly the stories are. This one made us both laugh out loud! That darn pigeon is just too cute. 



    Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman and illustrator Dan Yaccarino

    I'm not much into robots myself, but my nerdy husband loves them and I have a feeling, with a little boy in the house, I just may be seeing them around a lot. This book was great...filled with bright illustrations and a nice message about friendship and helping each other out. The amount of text was perfect--not too much and not too little-- and the adorably nerdy appearance of the little boy had me chuckling. I loved it!


    Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolf

    One of the more unique color-concept books I've seen, this one is not only a lovely read, great for bedtime or just one-on-one time with your little ones, it's beautifully illustrated. Parents could do so many things with this one, spawning projects, guessing colors, etc. or just use it as a nice way to introduce the colors, as I am with E. I'll be using this as a baby shower gift in the near future!

    The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

    Obviously, this is an old book. I enjoyed it during MY childhood and now I'm hoping Elliott will enjoy it too. It's been around for 70 years! This copy includes a cd to read along with, one track with page turn signal

    3 Comments on Picture Book Saturday, last added: 4/29/2012
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    21. Robot Zombie Frankenstein by Annette Simon

    Above all else, Robot Zombie Frankenstein! by Annette Simon is fun. Fun to read out loud, fun to look at and especially fun to see the reactions on listeners' faces as you read. Besides having robots, which I love and do not find in picture books as often as I would like, the plot of Robot Zombie Frankenstein! escalates to a fever pitch of competitive frenzy and suspense that kids love in a

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    22. 6-Year-Old Picks

    Here are some of Johnny Boo's favorites from March and April: Ricky Ricotta, Captain Underpants, The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby Author: Dav Pilkey Mr. Men, including... Mr. Men: Favourite Stories and whatever other Mr. Men and Little Miss books Johnny Boo found at the library (there are about 49 in all) Author: Roger Hargreaves And there are new Mr. Men graphic novels! The

    1 Comments on 6-Year-Old Picks, last added: 5/11/2012
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    23. Clink, manufactured by Kelly DiPucchio and Matthew Myers and BOY + BOT by Ame Dyckman and Dan Yaccarino

    I love a good robot book, especially when it is brilliantly illustrated. And, while these stories and their illustrations are pretty different, both picture books are wonderful and very much worth reading. clink by Kelly DiPucchio is the story of an old robot ("even his dust had rust," "even his creaks made squeaks,") wasting away inside the Robot Shoppe as he waits to go home with

    2 Comments on Clink, manufactured by Kelly DiPucchio and Matthew Myers and BOY + BOT by Ame Dyckman and Dan Yaccarino, last added: 6/28/2012
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    24. Bad Robot, Good Robot


    Art for Illustration Friday
    http://jerrytoons.blogspot.com/

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    25. Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover, by Cece Bell, 56 pp, RL

    Beginning reader books, the good ones anyway, seem to center around two friends. Friends who are usually opposites. I always think that this friend quota has been filled (Frog & Toad, George & Martha, Elephant & Piggie, Benny & Penny, Dodsworth & Duck) and then someone comes up with a new pair. With her book Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover, Cece Bell has created a fantastic new beginning

    0 Comments on Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover, by Cece Bell, 56 pp, RL as of 9/26/2012 3:59:00 AM
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