cover image Robobaby


David Wiesner. Clarion, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-544-98731-9

The plot of Caldecott Medalist Wiesner’s latest gives his artistic gifts a new challenge: rendering machines as living beings. A robot family welcomes an assemble-it-yourself baby robot but can’t get it running properly until their daughter comes to the rescue with her trusty toolkit. Shapely architectural lines form the metallic family—willowy mother Diode, stout father Lugnut, small daughter Cathode, chubby baby Flange, and dog Sprocket—and an illuminated floor lights the family from below, giving the spreads a warm glow. Energy tightens as the adults try to build the malfunctioning robobaby (“Thanks, Cathy,” says Diode, screwdriver in hand, “but this is a mother’s job”). Relatives come to visit (“Aunt Gasket!”), and robotechs arrive to snag the rocket-propelled baby with a net (“He needs a complete overhaul”). As the chaos intensifies, trying to work out which parts belong to which robot becomes its own visual puzzle. Against the how-things-work mayhem, smooth fields of color, streamlined panel artwork, and fastidious speech bubble typography make every spread elegant. Ages 4–7. [em](Sept.) [/em]