Because he can’t get his secondhand, gear-driven heart started one morning, lonely Rhoobart hobbles off on mismatched mechanical limbs to the Spare Parts Mart in fruitless hopes of finding a replacement. Eventually, hope gives way to despair, and he collapses: “His zipper lips chattered, / He rattled and clattered. / Now he was sure NOTHING mattered.” Enter Sweetart, “an energetic bit of metal / With just the right amount of tarnish,” who assures him that “you don’t need a new heart, you / just need a jump start!” So it proves, as sparks fly, and with Rhoobart’s heart thumping and rattling again, off they go together, singing a silly love song: “We’re all spare parts. / We’ve got secondhand hearts, / It’s true. / We go together like pickles and glue. / You stick to me, / I’ll stick to you.” Harmonizing with the brief narrative’s clanky rhymes, this plainly metaphorical encounter is set in a junkyard composed of jumbled masses of bent machinery, loose gears, and torn flat bits bearing obscure strings of numbers or battered words. Though likewise loose, the robotic figures are anthropomorphic enough for younger viewers to pick them out against the broken backdrop.
Children aren’t really the natural audience for this heartfelt tale of second chances; save it for over-40s just starting out again. (Picture book. 4-8)