So imagine you just received a big box in the mail and it says “Welcome to your awesome robot!” That’s exactly what happens to a girl in Viviane Schwarz’s book of the same name. However, the girl soon finds that the box is empty other than a book of instructions.
For those of us who want to make awesome robots out of boxes, Schwarz has cleverly interspersed her story of the girl and her mother building a robot with those instructions themselves. After one page of sequential storytelling, the reader is presented with a blue instructions page which helps the reader do what they just saw the girl and her mother—excuse me—”adult assistant” accomplish. It’s a fun way to jump-start a child’s creativity.
The blue instructional pages are written with a wry, tongue-in-cheek dryness. For instance, the first page explains the base unit, otherwise known as the box, with text that explains that it will arrive ready for upgrades, and to keep it away from fire. Other blue-paged headings cover Motion (i.e., the person inside), Vision (eyeholes), Input/output (other holes, chutes, etc.), Internal Storage (pockets/boxes on the inside to hold things—with a special warning not to store cats), Displays (labels and signs), Attachments (other things to put on the outside), and the Brain (again, the person inside).
On each facing page, the girl and her assistant work their way through the various stages of assembly in Schwarz’s loose and colorful, kid-friendly cartooning art style. And there is more humor in these pages, as when the girl/robot is not pleased when the input slot is tested with a candy wrapper rather than the chocolate itself. Another amusing sequence shows the mother and daughter out shopping for attachments (the chainsaw is vetoed as well as the pink glitter).
Taken as a whole, Schwarz’s book gives some good practical advice in an entertaining manner for building a box robot. Readers are encouraged to have adult help, as well as to think outside the box (ouch, sorry!) for interesting ways to make their robots unique. One concern that some libraries may have is that Schwarz did include many labels, certificates, and a poster that are designed to be cut out. Hopefully potential robot-makers will follow the instructions to head off any disasters with the help of their adult assistant! With that one caveat, Welcome to Your Awesome Robot should be very welcome indeed on your library’s juvenile shelves.
Welcome to Your Awesome Robot
by Viviane Schwarz
Flying Eye Books, 2013