cover image DOTTY INVENTIONS: And Some Real Ones Too

DOTTY INVENTIONS: And Some Real Ones Too

Roger McGough, , illus. by Holly Swain. . Frances Lincoln, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-84507-036-6

"Dotty" has double meaning—a youthful inventor's moniker and the adjective to describe her inventions—in this energetic if slightly discombobulated picture book. Professor Dotty Dabble can claim credit for a string of gadgets that never quite caught on, voice-activated socks and nasal-floss among them. But when notice of an inventor's contest arrives, she cluelessly wonders which of her ideas will bag the grand prize. Luckily her faithful companion, a robot named Digby, is on hand to help. Via Digby's database, readers view intriguing thumbnail histories of real-life inventions such as the ballpoint pen, windshield wipers and Velcro.

McGough's (Until I Met Dudley ) text is initially hard to follow, due to a jumpy rhythm and a narrative that zips from one vignette to the next, but it gains more solid footing as it proceeds. Throughout, Swain (Alberto the Dancing Alligator ) brings to life Dotty's fanciful, well-meaning ideas in watercolor-and-colored-pencil compositions with a wry, comic spark. Smallish panels offer a fun glimpse into the invention process, both real and imaginary. The final revelation—that Digby is not what he seems—contributes a fitting last laugh for on-the-ball kids. Ages 4-8. (May)