A “remote operating basic utility gizmo”—call him Robug for short—comes to clean Jake the dog’s mess, turning the house into hash in the process.
Arnold is always a bit of a wild man, and he brings that vibrancy here in both a narrative straining at its compression—“I will fix this mess!” is Robug’s refrain—and an artwork of inviting tactility. Readers would gladly dive into one of those plush chairs, even if they are covered with junk. Robug is a close kin to one of those swimming-pool cleaners that crawls contentedly about on the bottom. Robug, though, is a catastrophic dust storm, moving the mess from room to room to roof without ever getting anything put away. Finally, with a look in its eye like a teacher who isn’t going to take any more guff, Robug gets Jake cracking. This is a good, simple and funny tale, a pleasing eyeful working on a familiar motif: the sweep-it-under-the-rug style of cleaning, the cram-it-in-the-closet or shove-it-under-the-bed approach to household management, even the old shove-it-around-on-the-plate trick to pretend you at least tried the cold rutabaga salad. It hits the spot for beginning readers, and read-alongs are welcome, perhaps inevitable.
An inept commander and his clueless robot—there are lots of satisfying possibilities there, and Arnold taps into them. (Early reader. 4-8)