cover image Buzzy Widget

Buzzy Widget

Kevin Kiser. Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7614-5057-3

In this dubious romantic comedy, inventor Buzzy Widget wakes up ""with the feeling that something [is] missing."" His neighbor, Miss Jane, suggests that Buzzy needs help around the house, and he couldn't agree more. He gets to work on a robotic CHEF (""Cooks Healthy Edible Food"") and later a MAID (""Maintenance Activities Including Dishwashing""). Miss Jane tries a literal approach, saying, ""What you need is someone to help you with EVERYTHING in your life, you need a partner... a wife."" Buzzy compliantly builds ""Widget's Invention For Everything"" (WIFE), which supplants the CHEF and MAID: ""It made Buzzy's bed. It washed his dishes. It vacuumed and dusted and polished until the house was spotlessly clean. Then it made dinner."" Still, Buzzy isn't content until Jane persuades him to tie the knot. Kiser's (Sherman the Sheep) tale operates on dated definitions of a wife. Jane dutifully volunteers to perform chores, even though Buzzy himself never dreams of putting a human to work. In ink and watercolor images, busy with curving lines and webs of intricate crosshatching, O'Brien (Poof!, reviewed above) paints a more evolved portrait of marriage. He casts Jane as a self-sufficient beekeeper and Buzzy as a packrat whose yard is strewn with weird assemblages; the final illustration shows the newlyweds relaxing while a robot dog grills burgers. Still, the cozy conclusion doesn't eliminate stereotypes that seem borrowed from a 1950s sitcom. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)