And the Ferocious Valerie Knick-Knack
Masterpiece Robot pays tribute to the power of a child’s vivid imagination, which can transform a suburban autumn backyard into a futuristic battleground and Laura’s lively siblings into unwitting but enthusiastic participants in a fight for a planet’s survival. We begin in Laura’s bedroom where she is struggling to find her way into the story she wants to write, and we end there with Laura putting the finishing touches on her triumphant tale.
When Laura—a.k.a. Masterpiece Robot—heads into the backyard with her little sister Molly—a.k.a. Sidekick—her active imagination places them instead on patrol around the perimeter of a dystopian city, guarding against super villains. Then older sister Amber—a.k.a. Valerie Knick-Knack—throws handfuls of fallen leaves at them, unknowingly initiating a battle for the ages.
The transitions back and forth from suburbia to dystopia in this story within a story are deftly rendered with contrasting palettes. The rollicking interactions of the sibling heroes and villains make Masterpiece Robot pure fun to read.
Lexile Level 900
Fountas and Pinnell Level V
Praise For Masterpiece Robot: And the Ferocious Valerie Knick-Knack…
This one is such a fun read, and one kids will definitely relate to! It also lets adults relive those childhood memories where ordinary things – such as a pile of leaves, or a large cardboard box – can turn extraordinary with just a bit of imagination. The transitions back and forth from suburbia to dystopia in this story within a story are deftly rendered with contrasting palettes. The rollicking interactions of the sibling heroes and villains make Masterpiece Robot pure fun to read.
I love this book! I love the story, I love the spread of imaginative play, and I love the humor! It is so smart how the author and illustrator told both stories: the literal and the imaginative, and both stories are developed and fun to read together AND separately. This made for a quite complex book which is also really appealing to kids (and parents/teachers). I’m also a big fan of the artwork in the book. The illustrator did an amazing job changing the style just a bit for the imaginative and the reality but also kept her signature style in both. The illustrations definitely added to the narrative making this book a must get. I also loved that this is a sci-fi picture book because not many exist.
— KELLEE - UNLEASHING READERS
No author, no matter how talented, no matter how many pages written or how wide a scope cast, can rival a child for sheer, unbridled imagination. Children are natural-born storytellers, and, unlike most adults, they don’t have built-in limits for what makes sense or what can logically follow a given event. Kids are awesome that way.
Masterpiece Robot brings a little bit of that childlike magic to life, offering a split-screen view of reality versus imagination in this delightfully quick read. As we see the real backyard antics of Molly and Laura, we also watch the parallel story of Masterpiece Robot and Sidekick battling the fierce robotic army of Valerie Knick-Knack.
The color scheme is vivid, and the little metallic flourishes on heroes and robots alike add a nice touch of crispness and detail to the wild visuals. Although we’re given little background on the world behind Masterpiece Robot — all of the focus is on the kids’ alter egos, not the environment they inhabit — that ensures that we constantly keep our eyes on the faux-fight between siblings.
It’s a fun way to transport young readers and parents alike back to the days of cardboard spaceships and blanket forts-turned-castles.
— Glenn Dallas - The Manhattan Review
Tilbury House Publishers, 9780884485186, 36pp.
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
About the Author
Vietnamese immigrants, FRANK TRA proudly calls Wichita, Kansas home. Frank
attended the University of Kansas to wrestle and write comic books. While
there, he also earned a Doctorate in Pharmacy. He has been a cancer
pharmacist for the last ten years. Frank's writing credits include two graphic
novels and several comic books. Masterpiece Robot is his first children's book.
Dr. Tra resides in a quiet neighborhood with his wife, Katy, and their six
children: Amber, Laura, Roman, Molly, Tommy, and Isaac. He spends his
spare time writing, fishing, and coaching his high school wrestling team.
Rebecca Evans worked for nine years as an artist and designer before returning to her first love: children’s book illustration and writing. Her books include Someday I’ll Fly; Friends in Fur Coats; The Shopkeeper’s Bear; Naughty Nana; Mei Ling in China; Finding the Speed of Light (starred review, Kirkus); and Alone Like Me (starred review, Kirkus). She lives in Maryland with her husband and four young children, teaches art at the Chesapeake Center for the Creative Arts, and works from her home studio whenever time permits. Rebecca’s boundless imagination enjoys free rein at www.rebeccaevans.net.