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The ice cream machine
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Publishers Weekly Review
In this madcap middle grade debut billed as six "wildly different stories with the exact same name"--each illustrated by a different contemporary artist--Rubin (Gladys the Magic Chicken) varies genre, setting, and subtitle in tales that all feature ice cream as an integral component (and "have a half a dozen little wormholes in common, too"). In "The Ice Cream Machine (the one with the ice cream eating contest)," illustrated by Charles Santoso, sisters living in a community of anthropomorphized animals clandestinely enter a contest to unseat the unpopular champion. In Liniers-illustrated "The Ice Cream Machine (the one with the genius inventor)," a mechanically minded kid coaxes a loved one to cognizance, while "The Ice Cream Machine (the one with the sorcerer's assistant)," illustrated by Nicole Miles, offers a gross-out medieval fantasy retelling. Via a varied cast of characters, impish humor, and largely upbeat endings, Rubin underlines the idea, outlined in an introduction, that "writing is magic." Though the collection offers little innovation, the result is comforting, entertaining, and uniformly funny. A seventh chapter invites readers to create a story of their own; back matter includes a recipe and instructions to make ice cream without mechanical assistance. Ages 8--12. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM Partners. (Feb.)
School Library Journal Review
Gr 3--7--Picture book author Rubin (Dragons Love Tacos) makes his middle grade debut with this compilation of six short stories of the same name, "The Ice Cream Machine," each with its own subtitle (e.g., "The one with the ice cream eating contest."). With the common theme of an ice cream machine, each story is creative and fun. Featuring original ideas, an amusing cast of characters (including a robot nanny named Kelly), and exhilarating adventures like searching for ice cream in an uninhabited forest in Peru, the book deftly illustrates how one idea can be deeply, uniquely explored. Rubin's writing is inspired, and tweens will enjoy the wordplay. Rubin concludes with a challenge to write the seventh short story for this compilation, prompting readers to get creative and craft their own variation on the theme (a mailing address is included for receipt of said story). Each entry also has exciting black-and-white art from a different illustrator, bringing even more life to the pages of Rubin's fascinating conceptualization of the short story genre. VERDICT Ice cream lovers and tweens in general will get a kick out of this adventurous, whimsical, and funny book. A compelling twist on a sometimes underrated format, this short story collection is a winner.--Gretchen Schulz
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