The Adventures of Robo-Kid

by Diane deGroat

Holiday House/Neal Porter Books 2022
ISBN-10 : 0823449769
ISBN-13 : 978-0823449767

Ages 4-8

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Available June 28, 2022.
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Follow two intersecting stories set in the real world and inside a comic book. A real-life kid finds the courage to cope with his anxiety with the help of Robo-Kid, a comic superhero with his own vulnerabilities. With two distinctive art styles blending comic book and traditional picture book formats, Diane deGroat's The Adventures of Robo-Kid is an inspiring tale about what it takes to be a hero.

This book has been selected for the 2022 Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Award.

From Kirkus A comic-book hero and a real boy share an adventure. In the opening pages, Robo-Kid successfully averts a disaster. Then the frames of a comic book give way to the surroundings of a young, light-skinned boy absorbed in the story as a voice calls, "Ready for your swimming lesson, Henry?" Henry slams the comic book closed and tucks it into his backpack, and Robo-Kid rubs their head. "I hate when they do that,"" remarks Robo-Kid, a round-headed figure who appears to be made of interlocking blocks. As Henry approaches the community center, Robo-Kid complains to their robot family at the dinner table-"Why can't I be a superhero in the real world?" The juxtaposition of the comic-book frames of Robo-Kid's experiences with spreads depicting Henry's is excellent, with deGroat's crisp, engaging art rendering both characters' worlds in clear lines and bright colors. Robo-Kid senses that they are needed-it's evident from Henry's worried face that he's not entirely confident about swimming-and hops into Henry's world. When Robo-Kid leaps into the pool, it's Henry to the rescue. An image of a triumphant Henry holding his swimming certificate and the account Robo-Kid gives to the family about their adventure in the "real world" emphasize the heroics of both characters, each entitled to feel successful. A super blend of everyday courage, the inner lives of readers, and rising to the challenge of doing something difficult. (Picture book. 4-8)

From School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2 Fiction and reality blur when a robot superhero escapes his comic book and helps a faithful reader conquer his fears. Henry can hardly tear himself away from Robo-Kid's heroics, but it's time for swim lessons. When he closes the book, a parallel narrative inside the comic book reveals that Robo-Kid seeks more than cartoonish action. Opportunity arises when he sees that Henry is nervous about swimming, and so Robo-Kid leaps from the frames of his comic book to assist his biggest fan. When Robo-Kid takes an accidental dip in the pool, Henry finds the motivation to push past his fears and save the day. Rendered in two distinctively different styles, the illustrations are the standout here. The comic book world is bright and flat, with an emphasis on primary colors, while Henry's real-world illustrations are drawn in deGroat's signature style: softer and more ­three-dimensional, with gentle shading. Observant readers will enjoy catching clever details in the art. The book's straightforward plot is fairly light on substance but brimming with kid appeal. The concept of a favorite fictional character leaping into the real world is enticing, and positive themes of bravery, self-confidence, and helping others are welcome. Henry and his family are white, but the supporting cast includes people of color. VERDICT A good addition to any picture book collection, especially where superhero stories are in demand. - Allison Tran

From Publisher's Weekly Copper-haired, pale-skinned Henry is enthralled by a comic book starring Robo-Kid-a superhero who saves the day when Earth is threatened by a wayward asteroid. Henry is also dreading the day's swim lesson, which will require him to tackle deep water. The moral support he craves comes from none other than Robo-Kid, who, bored by life inside a comic book ("I save the day every day.... Why can't I be a superhero in the real world?"), climbs out of the volume's frame and into Henry's life. But in real life, Robo-Kid is no bigger than an action figure and distinctly lacking in superpowers. When the superhero accidentally tumbles into the deep end, Henry jumps in to mount a rescue-and passes his swimming lesson with flying colors ("You were SUPER!" declares Robo-Kid). DeGroat's (the Gilbert and Friends series) low-key meta story sets up a visual contrast between the comic's flat, bright art and Henry's more realistically rendered world, ending on a sweet-natured note-with both kid and superhero knowing that, in their respective ways, they saved the day. Ages 4-8.