cover image The Robots Are Coming: And Other Problems

The Robots Are Coming: And Other Problems

Andy Rash. Arthur A. Levine Books, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-439-06306-7

In cartoonist Rash's clever tongue-in-cheek children's book debut, an array of shady characters, including an evil hypnotist and a voodoo doll, occasions light verse. The title poem shows zombielike robots slurping too much coffee before invading the world (""The robots are perking more mugs than required/ .../ The caffeine is working./ They're totally wired./ Jittery, zappity, burp""). ""Dr. X"" milks laughs from a nerdy criminal who wears microscopes on his goggles: ""He was jailed because he failed/ to NOT see what we can't./ He has seen our bones and spleens/ and bras and underpants."" And in the wittiest selection, a man complains, ""In H-E-double hockey sticks/ the D-E-V-I-hockey stick/ just C-A-double hockey sticked/ me on his special phone."" Rash uses comic-book panels and sequential images to pack a lot of action into his pages. For instance, a creature of the night transforms from grinning beast to remorseful man in eight frames that spell ""werewolf,"" and then sends a get-well bouquet to his bandaged victim. The B-movie scenarios unfold in matte hues of rust, chemical yellow, copper green and oxidized gray on a coarse background; every classic monster looks to be painted on gritty black sandpaper. Rash isn't the first to poke fun at classic monsters, but he has a keen sense for the pleasingly corny. Ages 4-up. (Oct.)