Competitive pals get into a war of escalating ridiculousness in this amusing if visually stunted tale.
Two robots introduce themselves to readers, then one zips away and back to reintroduce itself as “Robot ZOMBIE!” Not to be outdone, its companion dons a costume of its own, now appearing as “Robot Zombie Frankenstein!” And up the ante goes. With each change, the robots pile on more and more visual elements (a Frankenstein scar, Groucho glasses, etc.). When the robots both appear as "Robot zombie Frankenstein pirate superhero-in-disguise outer space invader chef," one robot produces a tasty cherry pie and the two dig in, rivalry forgotten and buddies once more. The endpapers display the full roster of shapes that make up each costume. While the effect is novel and the chaos sure to prove hilarious to young readers, there is something oddly static about the digital art itself. In its attempt to simplify the visuals down to their most essential shapes, the story is drained of the vitality and charisma normally associated with Simon’s work. Thanks to the use of shapes, this book may work best with craft programs more than anything else.
Yet in an era in which electronics are always one-upping one another in the global market, it’s nice to see a picture-book equivalent that ends with the consumption of delicious desserts. Apple and PC, take note. (Picture book. 4-8)