Accompanied by outstanding illustrations, this is an inventive and fun story that subtly promotes recycling, challenges gender stereotypes and promotes self-belief.
Izzy Gizmo and her blue bird, Fixer, like to make things – even if their machines don’t always work. Word of Izzy’s skills has clearly spread because she’s invited to the annual Invention Convention at Technoff Isle. Here she has the opportunity to compete with four other young inventors to win a badge to the Genius Guild. This is, however, rather difficult given contestant Abi von Lavish keeps claiming all the supplies: Abi has already taken all the fan belts and wheels, she’s emptied the Cog Store and used up all the power. The only thing Abi leaves behind is a pile of broken tools. Luckily this gives Izzy the perfect idea. While the other contestants focus on making shiny new things, using up lots of power along the way, Izzy and Fixer build the Tool-Fix-Recycle-O-Matic that is powered by the wind and sun.
The first thing that struck me when I opened this book was how many words there are compared to many modern picture books. This made me slightly apprehensive. Reading on, however, I discovered a wonderfully inventive story with an appealing female character who has an affinity with machines and fixing things. Indeed, it’s hard not to love a story that subtly promotes recycling and natural energy, challenges gender stereotypes and promotes self-belief. It’s also great to have a black girl as the central character.
Looking beyond this, I was impressed by how clever the text is. It’s a rhyming story but it flows easily and never feels stilted or contrived. Laid out as prose, enhancing the flow of the story and in keeping with the pace of the pictures, some readers may not notice the rhyme but the clear meter makes this book a pleasure to read aloud.
The illustrations are detailed with an impressive level of characterisation and expression in what at first glance looks like a simple cartoon style. I was almost transported back to my own childhood as the pictures evoke the same feeling as the Gumdrop series by Val Biro. The colours are probably more vibrant than Val Biro’s pictures and there is undoubtedly a lot more detail to keep inquisitive eyes satisfied for hours.
If you enjoyed this, you might want to read the first book about Izzy – Izzy Gizmo by Pip Jones and Sara Ogilvie. Alternatively, if like me, you’re a big fan of Sara Ogilvie’s illustrations, why not try Dave the Lonely Monster by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie.