Review of Robobaby

by David Wiesner; illus. by the author
Primary    Clarion    32 pp.    g
9/20    978-0-544-98731-9    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-358-41605-0    $12.99

In his latest picture book told with comics panels, Wiesner (Mr. Wuffles!, rev. 9/13) presents a new-baby story; the twist here is that the family in question are robots. The recently delivered robot baby requires assembly, but no adult can quite seem to get it right. Big sister Cathode continually offers her assistance but is either ignored or refused. An ensemble cast joins in, adding to the disorder. All control is lost after an uncle’s unnerving decision to modify the still-inanimate baby with rockets (“I made some improvements”) results in a gloriously chaotic spread of the supercharged infant rocketing around the house. Finally, young Cathode saves the day, calmly and correctly assembling her sibling. The ­dialogue-and-sound-effects text is succinct and nicely punctuates each humorous scenario; however, the luminous, intricately detailed, and endlessly pore-over-able illustrations are the story’s driving force. Glowing floors, mirrorlike metallic surfaces, flaming rocket trails, and congratulatory balloons successfully coexist within the same image. A consistent floor-level perspective, lush color palette, and clever details (the family’s address is “8700 Alloy Avenue, Crankshaft, FE 3.14159”) further enhance the world-building. A concluding surprise signals that the robot family’s baby troubles are far from over.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Patrick Gall
Patrick Gall works as a librarian for children in preschool through eighth grade at the Catherine Cook School in Chicago.

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