Book: The Big Ideas of Buster Bickles
Author: Dave Wasson
Age Range: 4-8
The Big Ideas of Buster Bickles by Dave Wasson is an over-the-top picture book that celebrates creativity and following your own path. Buster Bickles is a kid who is full of ideas, like making robots out of cardboard and making "EGGS-ray" vision goggles out of bacon and eggs. But when he takes his inventions to school for show and tell, the other kids laugh at him.
Fortunately, Buster just happens to have an uncle who is an inventor (bearing a strong resemblance to Doc Brown from the Back to the Future movies). Uncle Roswell (heh) just happens to have invented a "What-If Machine", but he's lacking in big ideas to use to test it out. Needless to say, Buster is up for the challenge. He starts small, imagining "What if I had a giant mustache?", but then his ideas get bigger and bigger, until near-disaster. In the end, the What-If Machine makes a cameo at school for show and tell, and Buster is utterly vindicated.
So, not the most realistic book about invention that one might run across. (At one point the entire planet turns into ice cream). Despite the science-fiction nature of the story, however, Buster himself is relatable for any kid who has ever wanted to build things or felt like other people didn't understand. When he is initially laughed at during show and tell, the reader can see Buster droop, even though he is inside his robot costume. When he sadly says: "No one seems to like my ideas, Mom", the reader's heart hurts for him. And when his uncle asks if he has any big ideas for the machine, his joy positively radiates from the page. Although the what-ifs are entertaining (raining guinea pigs!), it's this realistic emotion that made The Big Ideas of Buster Bickles stand out for me.
The Big Ideas of Buster Bickles is a fun romp that is sure to make kids giggle. Wasson's digitally-generated illustrations are quirky and detailed. The use of varied fonts adds points for read-aloud emphasis. But The Big Ideas of Buster Bickles also has heart, and delivers a subtle encouragement to dream big. That makes it a keeper in my book. Recommended for home or classroom settings.
Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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