What is that strange red object sticking up out of the ground?
Norton is a robot who collects objects from the industrial waste ground outside his living quarters. He uses these objects to make new inventions. One day, he finds a small black sphere attached to a curly wire and adds it onto a new entity, a robot dog he names Alpha. The small dog with the perky tail “scurried into small, unreachable places, delved into unexplored spaces…and found all sorts of wonderful things.” One day, Alpha leads Norton to “something very unusual.” The inquisitive robots “[pluck] it from the ground” and take it home, where Norton tries all his “usual experiments” to determine what the object and its use could be. When he fails, he throws it out the window. One day it rains, and the next day is too hot to go out, but on the third day, what should Norton and Alpha find outside their home but a field full of the objects, in different colors and shapes, attracting butterflies. A gatefold opens to show the wondrous sight, and Norton and Alpha begin to gather these objects—which children will recognize as flowers—and decorate their drab home with them. Norton finally realizes their significance “is that they [make] him smile!” The illustrations have a quirky retro look, and young readers will enjoy and perhaps be inspired by Norton's action as scientist.
A quietly amusing fable that highlights the importance of nature in a mechanical world. (Picture book. 4-7)