Happy Paws (Layla and the Bots, book 1) by Vicky Fang, illustrated by Christine Nishiyama

Published by Scholastic

Amazon.com: Happy Paws: A Branches Book (Layla and the Bots ...

Summary:  Layla is a rock star and inventor who lives with three Bots that she built, Beep, Boop, and Bop.  They’re scheduled to perform in a big show at the Happy Days Amusement Park, but when they arrive to set up a few days beforehand, the owner tells them he’s closing the park and their show is canceled.  Turns out no one is coming to the park anymore, and he can’t afford to keep it running.  Layla and the Bots set out to investigate the reason, and discover a whole bunch of humans at the dog park.  They remember that there used to be a doggy daycare at the park–the dogs didn’t like it, but it got the humans there.  Layla has an idea: why not make the park fun for both humans AND dogs?  She and the Bots get to work, planning ideas for doggy rides, designing and building them, and testing them out.  When one idea is deemed unsafe, she has to go back to the drawing board and start again.  But there’s a happy ending for everyone–the park attracts big crowds again, and Layla and the Bots get to do their show.  Includes instructions for building your own robot and discussion questions.  80 pages; grades 1-3.

Pros:  Like all the Scholastic Branches books, this has plenty of appeal for newly independent readers, with colorful graphics, cartoon bubbles, and limited text on each page.  The story delineates the problem-solving process, and Layla uses her brain and perseverance to get the park back on its feet.

Cons:  This didn’t quite match the humor, originality, and charm of other comparable Branches series like Owl Diaries or Kung Pow Chicken.  It felt like the story was created to show how to solve a problem, rather than creating a great story in which a character solves a problem.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

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