Inspiring Young Readers
Alphabot by Vicky Fang
This unusual and beautifully designed picture book is a fun and interactive introduction to robotics for tech lovers of all ages. As I also collect alphabet picture books, I was intrigued to see how the information about robot related words would be organised in this way. I liked the sturdy and slim format that is an important feature for books that encourage lots of page turning back and forth by eager readers.
Like many children, my two young grandsons are already keen on robots and enjoyed playing with the different combinations on each page in order to build different kinds. They were both fascinated to learn that there were 729 variations promised! We didn’t find quite that many but they spent some time adding 26 different heads to the same body and deciding which ones they liked best (see their favourite combinations below). We even talked about possible names for each one trying to use the initial letters as a prompt, coming up with VeeHeX and RoSiE for the two illustrated, which gives this book another potential imaginative and educational dimension. The detailed illustrations are bold and brightly coloured and would certainly inspire plenty of drawing and model making. The written information organised alphabetically covers a range of subjects which, as a non- technological elderly adult, I found very informative.
The language used about this complicated subject is straightforward and so would be an excellent addition to any primary school classroom where children now learn about computing from an early age:
‘A Neural Network is a special type of program that is designed to work like the human brain so that a robot can learn like you do.’
There are also plenty of links with devices found in most homes eg:
‘An LED (or light-emitting diode) lights up when electricity flows through it’
'DC power is the kind of power most toys use.
DC stands for “direct current”, which means that electricity flows in only one direction’.
The author/ illustrator knows what she is talking about - she has a professional background as a product designer whose website explains that she has:
‘invented things like cars that talk to each other, robots you can build at home, and games you can play with your voice. I write and illustrate books to encourage kids to be creative problem solvers – whether that be in STEM, at home, or with friends.’
I strongly recommend this book which is engaging and packed with useful basic information. Available now from Walker Books, you will be able to get this from your local independent bookshop - who will be happy to order it for you if they don’t have it on their shelves.