I am not the kind of person who collects anything by any means (books DON'T count, obviously) but I do really dig robots. And I also really, really like the crazy, creative mind of picture book author and illustrator Viviane Schwarz. Needless to say, I was absolutely, totally over the moon when I discovered Schwarz's new book is not only about robots, but is also a mash-up of a graphic novel and a craft book! Before I go on and on about how fantastic Welcome to Your Awesome New Robot is, I need to catch you up on Viviane Schwarz's other amazing books. My absolute favorite, which I thought was out of print but happily is not, is Timothy and the Strong Pajamas. Published in March of 2008 before I even started this blog, it quickly became a favorite read at story time when I was a children's bookseller and at home with my then four-year-old son. Timothy has a favorite pair of pajamas AND a very special mom. When she patches Timothy's pajamas and sews on a new button or two, Timothy discovers her repairs have given him super-strength! He goes all over town getting people out of scrapes until a really big bear he helps out falls asleep on his lovey. Everyone comes to Timothy's rescue and he makes it home in time for bed - but his pajamas are a wreck. The best part of the book comes at the end when Timothy discovers the new super powers his mom's latest mending adds to his pajamas...
Schwarz is also the author and illustrator of There are Cats in This Book and There Are No Cats in This Book, two very funny interactive-meta-kind-of books as well as A Place to Call Home, written by Alexis Deacon and illustrated by Schwarz (see below.) But with Welcome to Your Awesome New Robot, (an oversized book, slightly bigger than 9 x 12) a new genre has been born! On the first pages of the book, Mom tells her daughter a box has just arrived for her and it's marked, "Welcome to your Awesome Robot!" However, when they open box it's empty - except for an instruction booklet!
The rest of the story (and book) is taken up with the steps needed to make an Awesome Robot! Being a craft book, Schwarz is quick to point out safety precautions, especially when indicating tools needed for construction, especially the importance of a useful assistant.
While I think my son and I did a pretty solid job making awesome robots a few years ago (see photo above) I wish we had had a copy of Welcome to Your Awesome New Robot on hand because Schwarz takes homemade-robot-costumes to the next level with control dials, labels, internal storage containers, and a trip to the hardware store to buy inexpensive gadgets to attach on to your Awesome Robot. After a panel-page of story-type instruction, a blue print page follows that clarifies steps. Also, Welcome to Your Awesome New Robot comes with a page of WORKSHOP RULES, a page with two certificates for Master Robot Engineers, both of which have instructions indicating they should be removed from the manual, and a page for notes. There is also a really lovely page with all sorts of robot engineers working on their creations. Just in case you didn't already think of this yourself, I'll say it here: BUY THIS BOOK AND GIVE IT TO A KID ALONG WITH A LARGE CARDBOARD BOX and you will be the coolest person ever!!!
Viviane Schwarz's other amazing, fantastic books you should read!!
A Place to Call Home, written by Alexis Deacon