Mark Shulman, Author, Phillip Fickling, Illustrator , illus. by Phillip Fickling. Chronicle $14.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-58717-256-4

Flashy but insubstantial, these digitally rendered "adventures of a robot boy and a boy boy" star Fillmore, a fireplug-shaped kid who resembles a Lego toy, and Geary, his silver-blue robot counterpart. They live on Planet Zada and, according to the mildly smug text, "had everything boys need. What they didn't need was a pet. So... that's what they wanted." At the pet shop, the two consider slimy space creatures, but a Lassie broadcast from Earth convinces them to invent a dog; they craft a Super Dog Robot, nicknamed "Sbot," on an assembly line. The robotic pooch's green lop-ears and angular brushed-copper body resemble a beagle's, but when he acts more like a scholar than a pet (he reads a book titled Howl ), he and his inventors embark on an interplanetary quest for dogs to imitate. In Shulman and Fickling's (previously paired for How I Built Rusty ) glossy spreads, details are labeled à la Richard Scarry; on Earth, corny Internet-popup labels identify Sbot's wagging tail and a fire hydrant. Dog lovers may feel insulted that a dial on Sbot's head turns him from "Wow" (smart) to "Bow-wow" (dopey), even though the boys have second thoughts and restore his intelligence. Slick art and personality-free characters make this tale the equivalent of space junk food. A snap-together cardboard rocket is tucked into the flap. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 12/13/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Library Binding - 39 pages - 978-1-58717-258-8
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