A junkyard robot ventures out into the wide world in search of a friend.
Watkins lavishes considerably more care on his illustrations and sound effects than on the trite storyline and prose. He sends his lonely bot out on the road knowing only (from a found advertisement) that a “Best Friend” says “Bark.” The trip becomes an odyssey as farm animals (“BAAAAA”; “OINK”), woodland creatures (“GROWL!”), jungle residents (“OO-OO AH-AAAH!”), and even fish (“GLUB!”) disappoint him. When at last a gaudily feathered rain-forest parrot repeats his “BARK?” Raybot is delighted: “A puppy!” The pleasure is compounded as the “puppy” comes with a wagging, four-footed companion that says, “WOOF!” Off the three go together, Raybot realizing that “puppies and friends come in all different shapes and sizes.” How Raybot makes the conceptual conclusive leap is quite unclear. A close visual cousin to the lanky, lantern-jawed mechanicals in Watkins’ R Is for Robot (2014), Raybot poses with a great many big, open-mouthed, mostly friendly-looking animals. Their sometimes-unexpected utterances—a beaver’s “SKWEEP,” “BARAAG!” from a giraffe, a hippo’s bellowed “HU-HU-HURUUGH!”—are likely to be all that will catch the attention of, and tempt responses from, young audiences.
A bland take on a heavily used plot that nevertheless has some potential as a high-volume storytime choice. (Picture book. 5-8)