Friday, January 22, 2021

Spare Sibling? Robobaby by David Weisner

The Robo family is expecting a new member of the family, and when a 278-pound shipping carton filled with parts arrives at their pod door, they are thrilled.

It's the new Flange model! Wow!

What a big boy!" coos Mama Diode.

Daddy Lugnut frowns.

"Babies have gotten a lot more complicated since we built Cathode!" he grumbles.

"I've got my tools," says little Cathode.

"Oh, how hard can it be," says Mama Di. "This is a mother's job."

But their first attempt isn't quite up to standards. in fact it CRASHES!

Daddy Lugnut asks Mama Di to call in her brother Manifold who arrives with Aunt Gasket and their two pets, Sprocket and Sprockie, along with jolly neighors bringing a sludge cake and and greasy gear cookies. Uncle Manny buckles on his tool belt and starts assembling parts. Little Cathy complains that he's not following the instructions, and Uncle Manny grouches that they can always do that later. But there's a major malfunction. Suddenly Baby Flange takes off with a WHOOSH out the door in wobbly flight, while Mama and Daddy call Robobaby Corporation for technical assistance.

But with the help of Uncle Mannie's pets Sprockit and Sprockie and a net, Baby Flange is retrieved, piece by piece, and with the expert help of the Robo tech guys, the talented Cathy, and the usual requisite updates installation, little Flange is soon functioning to specifications. The techies and neighbors depart, and baby Flange finally goes nighty night in her perma-rock cradle. Mama Di and Daddy Lug finally take a deep breath--until big sister Cathy discovers another shipping carton at their pod door. It seems Robobaby Corporation is having a special--there's a big box that says ROBO BONUS BABY, the AXLE MODEL on their porch.

Don't put away your toolkit yet, Cathy, in three-time Caldecott winner David Wiesner's latest inventive creation, Robobaby (Houghton Mifflin Clarion Books, 2020), which will make even devoted techno-types appreciate the way human babies are assembled. But The Jetsons' boy Elroy would feel right at home in Wiesner's rollicking illustrations of an expanding robot family, comically spoofing both interfamily relations and internet commerce and the unexpected "some assembly required" arrivals that come with it, while throughout celebrating the hard-wired love of family all along the way.

In a five-star product review, Kirkus says, "A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy."

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