Ice Cream Machine

Putnam. Feb. 2022. 384p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593325797.
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.

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