The Ice Cream Machine

by Adam Rubin (Author)

Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade

From the wild and wonderful imagination of the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dragons Love Tacos comes this hilarious, irresistible middle grade debut, a collection of six totally different stories with the same exact name.

In these six stories, set in six distinct worlds, you'll meet a boy and his robot nanny traveling the globe in search of the world's tastiest treat, a child mechanical prodigy who invents the freshest dessert ever, and an evil ice cream truck driver who strikes fear in the heart of every kid in town.

You'll be transported to a beachside boardwalk with an ice cream stand run by a penguin, a hilltop realm ruled by a king with a sweet tooth, and a giant alien space lab with a lone human subject who longs for a taste of home.

Each story features black-and-white interior illustrations from a different artist, including Daniel Salmieri, Charles Santoso, Liniers, Emily Hughes, Nicole Miles, and Seaerra Miller, making this book unlike any you've ever seen. So grab a cup or a cone, and watch out for brain freeze! You'll definitely want to save room for this treat.

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Kirkus Reviews

Entertaining . . . The variety of artistic styles forms a pleasing complement to the different entries.


Starred Review
Offers convincing proof that words are magical . . . Scoops of entertainment and insight for young readers as well as writers

School Library Journal

Starred Review

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.--Gretchen Schulz

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

In this madcap middle grade debut billed as six "wildly different stories with the exact same name"--each illustrated by a different contemporary artist--Rubin (Gladys the Magic Chicken) varies genre, setting, and subtitle in tales that all feature ice cream as an integral component (and "have a half a dozen little wormholes in common, too"). In "The Ice Cream Machine (the one with the ice cream eating contest)," illustrated by Charles Santoso, sisters living in a community of anthropomorphized animals clandestinely enter a contest to unseat the unpopular champion. In Liniers-illustrated "The Ice Cream Machine (the one with the genius inventor)," a mechanically minded kid coaxes a loved one to cognizance, while "The Ice Cream Machine (the one with the sorcerer's assistant)," illustrated by Nicole Miles, offers a gross-out medieval fantasy retelling. Via a varied cast of characters, impish humor, and largely upbeat endings, Rubin underlines the idea, outlined in an introduction, that "writing is magic." Though the collection offers little innovation, the result is comforting, entertaining, and uniformly funny. A seventh chapter invites readers to create a story of their own; back matter includes a recipe and instructions to make ice cream without mechanical assistance. Ages 8-12. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM Partners. (Feb.)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Praise for The Ice Cream Machine

An Indie Bestseller

"Three scoops of humor with adventure on top. Kids won't be able to resist The Ice Cream Machine!" —Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid

"If you do not find this book fascinating, I am sorry to say there is something wrong with you." —Lemony Snicket, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events

"Absolutely fun, smart, and kid-inspirational. Here's the proof that writing is magic!" —Jon Scieszka, author of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales

"Hilarious and imaginative, a total hoot!" —Melissa de la Cruz, author of the Descendants series

"Clever, inventive, and totally fun. The Ice Cream Machine is a blast!" —Max Brallier, author of The Last Kids on Earth 

Adam Rubin
Adam Rubin is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of ten critically-acclaimed picture books, including Dragons Love Tacos, Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel, High Five, Secret Pizza Party, Robo-Sauce, and El Chupacabras, which won the Texas Bluebonnet Award.

Adam Rex has illustrated many books for children, including the New York Times bestseller The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt. He is the author and illustrator of Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, also a New York Times bestseller; Nothing Rhymes with Orange; and On Account of the Gum.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication date
February 20, 2023
BISAC categories
JUV019000 - Juvenile Fiction | Humorous Stories
JUV001000 - Juvenile Fiction | Action & Adventure
JUV038000 - Juvenile Fiction | Short Stories
Library of Congress categories
Humorous stories
Short stories
Ice cream, ices, etc
Ice cream freezers

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