Things started off well for the young girl in this story. She wins first place at the science fair, but unfortunately the robot is a little too life-like. The giant robot starts to rampage! To further complicate matters, she not only gave it a superclaw, she also installed a laser eye and the power to control dogs’ minds. After many failed attempts to stop the robot gone wild, the girl creates a new plan: she creates a giant, fighting toad. What will happen when the toad and the robot have an epic battle?
The text is sparse and written in present tense from the little girl’s perspective. Sparse and informal descriptive text printed at the bottom of the page is punctuated by speech bubble dialogue that is incorporated in the illustrations. The text is clever, but I find the illustrations to be even more witty and hilarious. The illustrations, created with Photoshop, are cinematic and reminiscent of old superhero comics. Santat uses a variety of angles and viewpoints to create a suspenseful, action-packed story. He has also added humorous details to the illustrations, like the dogs who have dressed themselves as robots and the “cup of dirt” science project. Make sure to take time to look at the endpapers. The front papers show blueprints of the robot and the back showcases the blueprints for the toad.
This book is great to share with elementary school kids because they will be familiar with science fairs and will be able to appreciate the humor of the book. Use this for a storytime about robots and pair it with If I Had a Robot or Robot Zot.
Follow up by creating some robots of your own out of recycled materials. Here are a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing. That Artist Woman uses Halloween candy boxes to create her small recycled robots. Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas uses cardboard boxes to make a child-sized recycled robot. Or you can go super simple, like the Clermont County Public Library. They made foil and cardboard tube robots, which are decorated with construction paper shapes. You could cover any object with foil (plastic water bottle, tin cans, plastic cups, etc.) and use it as the base for your robot.
If you like this book, check out the sequel Oh No! NotAgain! (Or How I Built a Time Machine to Save History) (Or at Least My HistoryGrade) also by Barnett and Santat.