cover image Franky


Leo Timmers, trans. from the Dutch by Bill Nagelkerke. Gecko Press USA (Lerner, dist.), $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-9272-7193-3

Sam is certain that robots live “on a faraway planet”; unable to persuade his parents (or parrot) that this is true, he builds a robot buddy of his own. His raw materials include a canister vacuum, rake, swing-arm lamp, and vintage radio, so the robot’s name, Franky, is more than a little suggestive of its patchwork, Frankensteinian origin. Timmers (Bang) includes midcentury details throughout, creating an atomic-age sense of wonder and excitement about robots and outer space: Franky talks in molecules, and his adventures with Sam include watching a b&w film strip about UFOs and sculpting a giant robot out of sand. When Sam is proven right, and a disc-shaped spaceship full of robots arrives on Earth, it’s a wonderfully touching, E.T.-worthy moment as the friends realize they must part. Even more interesting, the extraterrestrial robots look exactly like Franky—rake arms, vacuum hose necks, radio heads, and all. On top of delivering a tender, funny friendship story, Timmers leaves readers with the impression that Sam’s creativity and faith have allowed him to tap into a truth far bigger than himself. Ages 2–6. (Mar.)