Book series review: D-Bot Squad by Mac Park and James Hart

Tuesday, August 1, 2017 Permalink

I don’t have kids, so am not overly familiar with a lot of children’s contemporary reading and literary options. My godson however is almost six and I’ve read him enough stories to know he needs to be engaged in a plot that’s exciting and relatable and – now he’s starting to learn to read – needs to be challenged by language, phrasing and prose and recognise words in print.

This new series by Mac Park (Louise Park and Susannah McFarlane) and illustrated by James Hart is perfect for the youngest millennials, accustomed to uplifting yet fast-paced action in a high-tech world.

Book series review: D-Bot Squad by Mac Park and James HartDino Hunter (D-Bot Squad, #1)
by Mac Park, James Hart
Series: D-Bot Squad #1
Published by Allen & Unwin
on June 28th 2017
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Children's
ISBN: 9781760295974, 9781760295981, 9781760295998, 9781760296001
Pages: 73

Hunter Marks knows everything there is to know about dinosaurs. But will it be enough to make it into top-secret D-Bot Squad? This is one school day the will be anything but normal...

Interestingly each book ends on a cliff-hanger – though I will admit to only reading the first to ensure I knew what I was handing off to my godson and understood enough to chat to him about it later, though am sure Pickle and I will be reading others in the series together.

A super-exciting series about DINOSAUR ROBOTS for first readers…from the creators of the bestselling Boy vs Beast series. A world kids will love, using words they can read.

The thing that jumped out at me when I saw these books was the notion of being part of a ‘squad’. On a sleepover at my place last year Pickle and I watched several (well, MANY MANY) episodes of a show on Netflix called Odd Squad. Basically it’s about a secret agency of kids who solve ‘odd’ problems using maths. And my 5yr old buddy was quite enchanted. I don’t think he really got a lot of the mathematical references – he’s a bit young for that yet – but the characters and plots kept him interested.

On the other hand I could recognise the educational component of the show (via the math problems the squad members had to solve) and life lessons: behavioural stuff about how the kids relate and the occasional growth of the rather prone-to-yelling boss Ms O (who seemed, incidentally, to be the youngest and smallest of them all!).

The D-Bot series is similarly attractive to its target audience. It’s perfect in that kids seem to love dinosaurs. I don’t think that’s changed a lot over the last decade or ten. Possibly if we’d been capable of co-existing we’d feel about them, the same way I feel about sharks and snakes (ie. death to them all!) but to youngsters they’re exciting and mythical. These books give kids an opportunity to learn more about types of dinosaurs and their characteristics (wingspan, height etc), so they can build Bots (robots, kinda) which are capable of outflying / outrunning (etc) the dinosaurs they’re chasing.

Adding technology into the mix is ingenious. The inclusion of virtual reality, gaming and building of ‘bots’ is surely every kids equivalent of adding cheese to a parent’s evening bottle glass of wine. And fighting the good fight (ie against evil / baddies) is merely icing olives on that cheese platter.

Sneakily though, in the (aptly-named) Hunter Marks we’re offered a kid who’s a bit different… a bit of an outcast and via Ms Stegg (the librarian) and the D-Bot squad his unique skills and talents are valued and he’s ‘included’. And what kid doesn’t need that not-so-subtle messaging?!

Pickle has just started reading these books so I hope to add a video interview (or similar) down the track, but was keen to share these books for those looking for the perfect reading matter for new readers (and kids aged 5-7 or so). And encouraging boys to read is obviously a no-brainer.

Check out the D-Bot Squad website, which has activities for kids, information about the books and more on the authors’ work. (You can also read the first two chapters of Dino Hunter.) Mac Park are best known for their Go Girl, Zac Power and Boy vs Beast series, for example, while James Hart has designed animated programs like, The Day My Butt Went Psycho.

The series featuring the D-Bot Squad by Mac Park and James Hart are published by Allen & Unwin and the first four books are now available, with more coming out later this year.

I (we) received the first four in this series from the publisher for review purposes.

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