Robot on the Rampage: Awesome Dawson by Chris Gall
WHEN I WAS A BABY, I INVENTED A NEW KIND OF HAT.
All babies stick silly stuff on their heads, but what makes Dawson an awesome inventor is that from the git-go, his unique creations are made from castaway found objects. That hat was the dog's old water bowl, and with that, he's off on a career of collecting what other folks would call trash and transforming it into inventive treasures.
When Dawson was lonesome, he invented a best friend, Mooey, a discarded cow head with shopping cart wheels, a loyal co-collector and inventor.
Now Dawson's basement is filled with an assortment of trash, labelled and ready to be turned into treasures, each carefully purposed for the good of the world. His parents encourage his inventing because he's a one-man neighborhood beautification crew. No cast-off soda can has a chance of littering for long with Dawson and Mooey on the job down in his basement lab.
But like any kid, Dawson is less diligent about doing his regular chores--like picking up the stuff on the floor of his room. But for a super-inventor, that's NOT A PROBLEM. It's a scientific challenge.
"I REALLY NEED TO FIND A WAY TO GET MY CHORES DONE.
THIS WILL BE MY BEST INVENTION YET--THE VACUMANIAC!"
Dawson rummages through his pile of parts--an old vacuum cleaner, a bent watering can, a gumball machine, a piece of hose. Ah ha! He knows what to do!
"EUREKA! IT SUCKS UP EVERYTHING...."
But in the best tradition of the runaway machine tale, the Vacumaniac doesn't stop. It sucks up and more and gets bigger and scarier as it threatens to vacuum up the whole town, in author-illustrator Chris Gall's latest extravaganza, Awesome Dawson (Little Brown, 2013).
Gall lavishes attention on his artwork, elaborate large-format, full-bleed pages meticulously crafted from engravings on an ink-covered clay board with digitally applied, eye-popping color, and a story told in comic-book style with panels, speech balloons, and a hilarious array of recyclables from which Dawson concocts his creations. A recycling superhero, in the style of Ellie Bethel's Michael Recycle series, is not new, but Awesome Dawson's clearly super absorption in contriving modern versions of the ever-popular Rube Goldberg apparatuses will appeal to the numerous gearheads among the primary set. Gall's awesome combination of clever cartooning and appealing text is perfect for kids who like their machines on the manic side. Booklist's reviewer says ". . . vibrant imagery that is both slick and homespun, like Dawson's own creations....Superheroes, recyclers, and inventors unite!"
Gall's other zany, kid-pleasing books include Dinotrux, Revenge of the Dinotrux, There's Nothing to Do on Mars, and Substitute Creacher, all reviewed here.