Book Review: Robot Zombie Frankenstein
Yep, you read that headline right. This review talks about a book called Robot Zombie Frankenstein. Now, before you start rolling your eyes, you should probably know that this one’s aimed squarely at the kiddies, and it’s a children’s book I can’t recommend enough. The book is overall fun, but there’s one specific reason I give it such high praise. However, in true “web journalism” style, I’m going to save that reason for the end.
The “story”, if you can call it that, is simple. Two robots get into a friendly game of “oh yeah, well look at THIS!” that sees them putting on increasingly complex costumes for each other. They zoom and zip on and off the page in their quest to outdo each other by adding on layers of outfit, resulting in things like a “robot zombie frankenstein”. Hence, the title. It does wrap up in a way that shows younger readers it was all in good fun, and the ending involves pie, to boot! (Ok, I’ll spoil the ending: the two friends share the pie. I know that was killing you…)
Being a picture book, the layout is simple, with the whole effect not being unlike the seminal classic “Monster at the End of This Book”, with younger readers flipping pages to see what outlandish feature the robots will add next. Unless mom or dad are really good at making funny voices to go with each costume change, the story’s only good for one read-through, though. Luckily, that’s by design. The creator, Annette Simon, isn’t relying on your little ones being enamored of the story, here, she’s probably betting on the quirky little robots’ personalities showing through and making some fans. But even that isn’t this book’s “killer app”, as Simon has one fantastic ace up her sleeve.
In the front and back of the book, Simon gives the shapes she’s used in the creation of the robots, and gives them descriptive names like “pie-ready mouth” and “glasses disguise”. You see, THIS is truly Simon’s biggest trick: spending the pages of the book familiarizing kids with the shapes put together into the recognizable forms of two amiable robots, then pulling the individual shapes out of her hat with a flourish of the wrist. I’m not artistic at all. Lots of people say that, but I mean it: art just wasn’t something I grew up around, and if you asked me as a child, I’d have said I had no idea how to make a robot look like it was ready to eat pie.
If only I’d had this book when I was younger, thanks to Annette Simon’s sleight of hand something in my tiny brain might have clicked together that “oh, doesn’t this rectangle on top of that one look like a face?” And it’s a short hop from cutting out shapes and putting them together to deciding “hey, maybe I can draw these shapes as easily as I can cut them out…” If that’s the sort of subconscious mental connection between art and action that you want your youngster to make, I HIGHLY recommend this book. It’ll put that concept in front of them, and it’ll do so in a way that will make them think it was their idea. Win/win, if you ask me…
Buy Robot Zombie Frankenstein at Amazon.com