cover image Spare Parts

Spare Parts

Rebecca and Ed Emberley. Roaring Brook/Porter, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59643-72

Somewhere in a ramshackle, all-robot world that looks a lot like a post-human junkyard Earth, Rhoobart is having an existential crisis: “Tarnished and tattered,/ He felt nothing mattered.” Thinking he needs to replace his secondhand heart, Rhoobart goes to the Spare Parts Mart, but not even an encounter with the gruff owner’s version of a junkyard dog—a robotic dragon named Mozart—can make him feel less meh. What finally works is the company of a girl robot named Sweetart, who has “just the right amount of tarnish” and a can-do attitude. “You don’t need a new heart, you just need a jump start,” she tells Rhoobart before administering a literal shock to his system. The father-daughter Emberleys’ (The Crocodile and the Scorpion) mechanized, industrialized world is weirdly beautiful and inventive, composed with a saturated palette and graphic elements in the shapes of jagged scrap, loose gears, and other flotsam (Rhoobart’s facial features are made from a camera’s iris, a rotary phone, and a zipper). But, robotic natures aside, the characters never really come to life. Ages 3–7. (Nov.)