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review 2018-12-11 23:45
Learn from my mistakes
Robot Dreams - Sara Varon

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon was sold to me as being a cute little story about a dog who builds a robot so that he has a friend. I was hoping for something with The Wild Robot vibes but I actually found it to be disturbingly macabre and callous. This is a children's graphic novel and yet it explores some really dark themes (in itself not a problem but this was creepier than most). Did I mention that it was entirely wordless? I'm not certain if it's a gift or a curse that Varon possesses to entirely unnerve me without using a single, solitary word. Without giving the entire plot away (this is a very short book by the way), a dog builds himself a robot friend and the two of them are inseparable...until the robot gets rusty at the beach and the dog abandons him there. Yes, he left his very best friend behind at the beach. The next day the beach is closed for the winter and the entire area is fenced off. (That's one strict town!) So now the robot is left on the beach to rust while the dog tries to make a new friend. There are mishaps on both sides of this relationship as the robot is beset by weather, a group of boaters who partially disassemble him, and eventually a junk collector. The dog keeps making friends with those who either can't or won't stick around and he's back at square one without any friends at all. Like I said this is not sweet bedtime reading. If you're looking for a creepy existential crisis well you've hit the jackpot. If you wanted a cutesy little graphic novel you've made a horrible, horrible mistake. 1/10


This makes me hungry. [Source: page45]



What's Up Next: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa


What I'm Currently Reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond and The Science of Supervillains by Lois H. Gresh & Robert Weinberg 


Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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text 2015-10-29 18:03
Reading progress update: I've read 48 out of 208 pages.
Robot Dreams - Sara Varon

Fuck those rabbits.  They amputated the robots foot and stole a toe to plug up their boats. 



I seriously hope they get stranded and have to cannibalize each other.   And choke on each other and die. 


I was seriously pissed off for that little cutie-pie of a robot. 

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text 2015-08-08 18:43
Baking time!
Bake Sale - Sara Varon

I'm making the peppermint brownies from this book right now. Crossing my fingers that they taste good!


The recipe:





1 ½ sticks unsalted butter

8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

3 large eggs

1 ½ cups sugar

¾ cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp peppermint extract

¼ tsp salt




2 cups sifted powdered sugar

½ stick unsalted butter at room temperature

2 Tbsp whole milk

¾ tsp peppermint extract


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Grease a 9 by 13 inch glass baking pan.

3. Melt the butter and chocolate. I did it in a saucepan on the stove, to avoid the possibility of the whole thing exploding on me in the microwave.

4. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl for about 5 minutes.

5. Add the chocolate and butter mixture, flour, salt, vanilla, and peppermint extract to the egg and sugar mixture and stir until just blended.

6. Pour the batter into the glass pan and smooth it out with a spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool completely before frosting.

7. For the frosting, the recipe says to combine the powdered sugar, butter, milk, and peppermint extract and beat in a bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Next time, I plan to beat the butter a bit first, because I ended up with a good deal of powdered sugar on my shirt during the first few seconds of turning my electric mixer on.

8. Spread frosting over brownies.

(spoiler show)


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review 2015-08-02 00:50
Bake Sale (graphic novel) by Sara Varon
Bake Sale - Sara Varon

This is a low conflict story about friendship and baking. Eggplant is planning to visit his aunt in Turkey this spring and invites his friend Cupcake to come with him. Cupcake is very excited about the trip, because it will give him a chance to meet Turkish Delight, a famous pastry chef and his idol. First, though, he has to save up enough money to buy his ticket. While Eggplant is watching out for Cupcake's bakery, Cupcake sells some of his baked goods at various new places and events.

I've wanted to read this ever since I cataloged it for my library. The thought of a baked good creating and selling other baked goods was a little weird, but the artwork was bright, cute, and appealing.

Now that I've read it, I can say that the whole “baked good selling baked goods” thing is still weird. On the one hand, they ate food, like any other living thing, and owned pets (regular dogs, cats, etc.). On the other hand, Cupcake, at least, had actual cupcake-specific problems. When he and Eggplant went to a Turkish bath, for example, the sauna dried out his frosting a little, and the eucalyptus-scented Turkish Room made his wrapper start to peel.

If you can get past the weirdness of this world in which anthropomorphized food eats regular food, this is an okay story, although it ended too suddenly for my tastes and felt somewhat pointless. Like I said at the beginning of this review, Bake Sale is very low conflict. The worst things the characters deal with are Eggplant getting laid off and Cupcake's disappointment and slight depression, and both of these things are handled in a fairly low key way.

I think this graphic novel would be most appealing to those who are interested in baking. Thankfully, I fall into that category. There was something calming about watching Cupcake get ready to open his bakery each day. I especially enjoyed seeing him try new recipes. He wasn't afraid to experiment, even though the results weren't always successful.

It's practically required that food-related books include recipes, and Bake Sale is no exception. Varon included recipes for sugared flowers, raspberry squares, brownies, vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting, marzipan, dog treats, and peppermint brownies. I haven't tried any of them yet, but I'm planning on giving the peppermint brownies a shot once I've bought some peppermint extract.

Story-wise, this was a bit too low key for me. However, I'd still recommend it to baking enthusiasts, even (especially?) newbies.


(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2014-02-19 18:22
Bake Sale
Bake Sale - Sara Varon

I guess it’s time to take note once your kid has checked a book out from the library for the gazillionth time.  It’s really time to take note when she asks to send a fan letter/illustration to the author/illustrator. 


While I can’t say it quite knocked my socks off in the same way as my daughter, I was nonetheless pleasantly surprised.  On the face of it, this is a sweet and slyly comic story about a cupcake who owns a bakery and has an eggplant for a best friend.  Underneath all that it’s a story about friendship, creative block, achieving goals and self-sacrifice.  


I think what makes this book so attractive to my daughter are all the little visual and textual details that come together to make up Cupcake’s world.  I think it lends the whole book an odd sort of realism.  I was surprised to find myself feeling rather emotionally invested in the outcome of this foodstuff being!

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