Ready, set, go! Layla and the Bots are heading to the races!
Blossom Valley is hosting a go-kart race! The go-karts are provided for all the kids in town. Layla and the Bots can't wait for race day! But one racer, Tina, needs their help. She needs a new cart that uses hand-controls and other cool features. Layla and the Bots know just what to do... they will build her a brand-new cart that's even faster than her wheelchair! But will Tina's go-kart have enough speed to win the race?
Vicky Fang has designed technology products and experiences for kids at Google and Intel—including buildings that make music, robots you can build at home, and games you can play with your voice. She started writing to support the growing need for early coding education particularly for girls and minorities. She holds an MFA in Design & Technology and is an active member of SCBWI. Her debut books, INVENT-A-PET (Sterling picture book), and LAYLA & THE BOTS (Scholastic early chapter book series), are launching in Spring 2020 and feature courageous and innovative girls in STEM.
- Thoughtful protagonist Layla uses her skills and knowledge to help her friend Tina - Tina uses a wheelchair and can't participate in the go kart races: Layla asks Nina what kind of modifications Nina would like to be able to drive a go kart - Works through processes of experimentation, trial and error, teamwork, collaboration - Colourful, cute and crisp illustrations, including children with diverse skin colours (I didn't read book one so I don't know if Layla's identity has been labelled, but she is clearly illustrated as a person of colour) - Adorable robots who are also smart and helpful
This book is trying to do a lot. It felt a little clunky to me. I loved the inclusion of a character in a wheelchair--and while I think Layla was helpful and took Tina's opinion and experience into consideration, I wish Tina had been more central to the design of her own go-kart. That would have taken the book from passing exposure of child-with-disabilities to a book where kids with disabilities can see themselves in a central role.
Ultimately, really clunky--trying to incorporate cute robots, STEM, design, rock bands?, disability awareness, etc. while also being "easy to read" (hint--it's not really), it was not particularly anything.
More of a late 2nd early 3rd book for vocab, but something younger kids would be interested in.
Layla, an inventor and rock band leader, and her bots are here with there second work. This time, they are five days away from the show they are going to put on at the end of the go kart race event. But as they are at the track they notice Tina in her wheelchair. Turns out that Tina wants to race but none of the go karts are accessible for her. Layla and her bots start working on designing one that will.
Like the first one, I really enjoyed the Layla's process of finding a problem and engineering a solution from research, execution, trial and error, setback, and retrying until completion of product. An added bonus is that this is all done to help someone. Recommend to lower elementary readers who like working with their hands to design or produce.
Vicky's work is AMAZING. All of the Layla books weave design thinking organically into the story line. I would actually even use these books to help students pick out parts of the design thinking process. It is really just an iterative flow to problem solve, which they can follow just like Layla! I've read #1 and #2 in this series now - they each have other points of interest and expand background knowledge around systems thinking. In Built for Speed we see a story crafted around go karting and which shows 1) how a problem by the mayor can be (partially) solved by providing parts for the kids and 2) how events, materials and rules can be tweaked to honor all abilities in a creative way.
Layla and the Bots are slotted to perform at a go-kart race. They are excited to watch the race, but find that one of the would-be contestants can't race because she can't use her feet to control the gas and brakes. Can Layla and the Bots modify a go-kart so Tina can race?
I love that Layla and the Bots are helping a girl in a wheelchair get the opportunity to race too. There's some great problem solving of very real engineering issues along the way, and problem solving about how to make the race fair for all after Tina gets this souped up kart. A fun little graphic novel that introduces kids to ways STEM skills can be used to help people.
Great overall book to help kids understand how to think through problems and not to give up when an obstacle gets in their way. Love how Layla is an inventor and a rock star. I think I wanted to be both too when I was Layla's age. ;-)