Child’s Play Review: Power Down, Little Robot by Anna Staniszewski

Child’s Play is a regular feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which I review picture books, chapters books, and middle grade books for the young and the young at heart.

Title Power Down, Little Robot
Author Anna Staniszewski
Published March 3rd, 2015 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Pages 32 Pages
Intended Target Audience Children
Genre & Keywords Picture Book
Part of a Series? No
Source & Format Received an advance reader copy from the publisher for review (Thanks, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group!), Paperback
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChapters

It’s time to power down for the night, but Little Robot isn’t ready! He quickly opens his stalling program. Luckily, Mom Unit knows exactly how to get him into his sleep module.

This fun twist on a familiar nighttime routine will click with bedtime avoidance experts everywhere.

“Bedtime, my little robot!” Mom Unit calls.
I quickly open my stalling program.

What’s a Little Red Robot to do when bedtime is near and he is anything but ready to power down for the night? Initiate one’s stalling sequence, of course! He needs a can of motor oil. He needs to clean his clogs. He needs his closet checked for rust monsters. And how is he supposed to sleep without his favourite toy? Finally, Mom Unit has had enough. Grudgingly, the Little Robot agrees to enter the sleep module, but he will absolutely, unequivocally not power down. No, sir. Even if the module is soft, and warm, and welcoming. Well. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt if he closed his eyes for a moment…

“Will you read me a manual?”
Mom Unit chooses the thinnest one on the shelf.
“Can you tell me the story of how I was manufactured?”

When I was a child, there was nothing I dreaded more than bedtime. There was so much to see! There was so much to do! Why would I want to waste eight precious hours of my life sleeping? Instead, I would huddle under my bedcovers for hours, a miniature flashlight propped beneath my chin or balanced precariously on my shoulder, desperate to stave off the bone-quaking yawns and undeniable heaviness of my eyelids that threatened to overwhelm me at any moment. In her latest release, Power Down, Little Robot, Anna Staniszewski explores this idea in an all new way. This charming little picture book is perfect for anyone who has ever wanted one more hug, one more story, one more shared secret, or one more second before falling asleep at the end of a very long day.

“All right now,” she says. “You must recharge.”
“But I am not tired! Look. My power level is still at yellow.”

The bulk of this book is relatively simple and straightforward, exploring the tactics enterprising children will employ and the lengths they will go to in order to avoid succumbing to sleep. One of the things that makes this particular story so special, however, is the subtle word play and innovative interpretation that the author employs, allowing Staniszewski to make this otherwise familiar tale all her own. The Little Robot does not request a glass of water or warm milk, but a can of oil. He does not brush his teeth, but rather his cogs. He does not request a bedtime story, but rather the story of how he was manufactured from his instruction manual. While some of these smaller or more sophisticated technical details might go over a child’s head, they help to make Power Down, Little Robot more accessible and interesting for older readers. As a fun, additional bonus, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group is currently offering a printable Sleepy Times Tips list and door hanger, perfect for Mom and Dad Units whose own Little Robots needs a little help and encouragement powering down for the night. They can be found here!

Mom Unit turns off the light. The situation is becoming serious.

Power Down, Little Robot is illustrated throughout by the talented Tim Zeltner, previously known for his work in Little Boo by Stephen Wunderli, whose illustrations act as the perfect compliment to the text. Zeltner uses a rather unconventional combination of paint, glaze, and stain on wood, creating a unique style that was quite unlike anything I had ever seen before. While it isn’t visible in the images included below, this particular medium allows the reader to see every brush stroke and in doing so gives the illustration the illusion of movement, depth and texture. The colour palette is limited to muted, gentle pastels, allowing the bright, vibrant red of the Little Robot to pop on every page. Best of all, the character’s expressions are animated and demonstrative, perfectly encapsulating their every thought and feeling as the story progresses.

Dream sequence initiated.

Make bedtime a blast with Power Down, Little Robot! While Staniszewski’s latest doesn’t reinvent the wheel in regard to theme or message, this book would make a bright, cheerful addition to any child’s nightly routine. The author’s futuristic twist on a well-known tale will delight readers both young and old alike and have even the most reluctant of little robots looking forward to powering down in their sleep module for the evening. Set your phasers to delight as Staniszewski tells a story that will be all-to-familiar to many, when the lights go out and the negotiations are just about to begin.

Please Note: All quotations included in this review have been taken from an advanced reader copy and therefore might be subject to change.

Still not sure this is the right book for you? Why not listen to what some other bloggers had to say about it?

● Jen @ The Starry-Eyed Revue wrote “Overall, it was a really cute story and probably our favorite in the bunch. Definitely a perfect bedtime story.” (Read the rest of the review Here!)

● Randi @ A Lucky Ladybug wrote “I’m so happy with the reader Dane is becoming as he enjoyed this one quite a bit too and easily read through it.” (Read the rest of the review Here!)

● Misty @ The Motley Toddler wrote “This is the perfect bedtime book for our robot-loving daughter. It has quickly become a favorite of all of ours, and a book that we will cherish for years to come.” (Read the rest of the review Here!)

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Hi! I’m Jen! I’m a thirty-something introvert who loves nothing more than the cozy comfort of home and snuggling my two rescue cats, Pepper and Pancakes. I also enjoy running, jigsaw puzzles, baking and everything Disney. Few things bring me more joy than helping a reader find the right book for them!