Author/Illustrator: Mike Austin
Publisher: Beach Lane Books
Publication Date: May 2013
Lexile Level: AD (Adult Directed)
Junkyard is the story of two robots living in a junkyard. But there’s so much junk that there’s no room for anything new. So the robots get munching, and then they get to building. Before long they’ve formed a nice green space to plant, grow, and play.
The text is in a rhyming format, with illustrations in an interesting sort of painted print style. The pictures work really well–the junkyard and robots have a slightly grungy, dirty look. Then as the robots clean, the setting because brighter and friendlier. The illustrations provide a lot of the enjoyment, but they are not crucial to the story. Someone with visual impairments would still be able to enjoy the story and know what was happening without them.
The story provides a subtle environmental message that could be used to start discussions on recycling or taking care of our environment. The reader could also use the book as an example of why they do certain environmental chores around the house, such as composting.
The only flaw in the book is the rhyming scheme. While large parts of the book are consistent in meter, some are not. Some lines are too long to make the rhyming feel natural. If reading out loud, it is easy to get tripped up on some of the lines. Alternatively, sometimes the first part of the stanza fails to match the first part of the stanza, making it hard to build up a natural pace. It’s not devastating–but it does mean the book would require practice before being used in front of an audience.
Final Thoughts: A good recommendation for fans of robots, or as an environmental tie-in.