Hello Robots was originally published on
September 1, 2004.
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use these links:
+ Bob Staake (Author and Illustrator)
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Hello Robots by Bob Staake
Blink, Zinc, Blip, and
Zip comprise an unusual household of brightly colored robots
in this charming rhyme. Each has his own special skill that makes
him happy: cooking, repair, gardening, or cleaning. The robots
grin through several pages of their daily tasks, framed by the
refrain, "Hello, robots! Metal robots! Smiling bolt to bolt."
A rainstorm fries their robot brains, and suddenly the four can't
do their jobs correctly-the apple pie gets repaired, and the
television gets planted. How best to fix the mix-up? Why, swapping
robot heads, of course! After the switcheroo, the robots-now
wearing one another's contrasting-colored heads-can once again
keep a lovely home, until they settle down for a tasty-looking
afternoon tea. Chock-full of funny visual details (such as the
pie baked on a backyard grill), with a thumping rhythm that makes
this an excellent read-aloud. (Picture book. 3-7)
- Kirkus Reviews (7/2004)
This high-energy picture book goes a
long way on a little plot, thanks to a clean graphic style, a
staccato rhyming text, and a surefire kid-pleaser of a subject.
The titular robots are Blink, Zinc, Blip, and Zip, each of whom
has a specialty (cooking, repairs, gardening, and cleaning, respectively),
and a different bright color, used both in the illustrations
and in the font in which the robot's name appears. When the four
spend a day outside, however, disaster strikes in the form of
a rainstorm and fried circuits. Blink bakes a birdhouse, Zinc
repairs an apple pie, Blip rakes the window, and Zip tries to
shine the grass. But soon the intrepid robots solve their problemsby
switching heads. Young robot fans will thrill to this simple
tale, and the strong rhythm of the text makes it an ideal candidate
for storytimes.Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Maryland School
for the Deaf, Columbia
- Library School Journal
Kids who love the idea of robots will
like this book, and even those not naturally attracted to mechanicals
will be drawn in by the fascinating computer-enhanced artwork
that features crisp geometric shapes and Technicolor hues. The
four sprightly robots (house servants all) who star in the story
will keep them hooked. Tomato-red Blink cooks the meals; grape-colored
Zinc fixes things made of steel; Blip the gardener is grass green;
corn-and-gold Zip loves to clean. Each name appears in the text
in its particular color. Part of the fun is the Teletubbies effect--watching
these four colored-coded creatures interacting. But there's also
a story: an electronic glitch causes the robots to slow down,
forcing them to switch heads and rendering each a hybrid (now
their names are dual-colored in print). Everything is thoughtfully
designed, right down to the diamond-encrusted endpapers (each
diamond holds one of the robots). This book brings the future
- Booklist (2004)
Chatham, Massachusetts Artist Uses Digital Technology To
Create Children's Picture Books
by Tim Wood (Cape
Four friendly, hard-working robots named Blink, Zinc, Blip and
Zip get caught in a thunderstorm, and the ensuing complications
provide the underlying message in Chatham resident Bob Staake's
new children's book.
"The subtext is
we work better together as team, when we can apply our individual
talents with others," he said of "Hello, Robots,"
a 32-page children's picture book published recently by Viking.
"They literally have to put their heads together to figure
out a problem."
It's a process that Staake
has found applies equally to the children's publishing business.
Author and/or illustrator of some 32 books, more than half of
them geared towards kids, Staake sold the book to Viking within
an hour of making the pitch, but then had to deal with an editor,
designer, marketing department and others before the book saw
print. Suggestions at all steps in the process help make the
finished product better, he said, although there are just some
times when switching heads --- metaphorically, of course ---
doesn't work. At one point, a suggestion was made that
the text not rhyme.
"That was a case
where I felt empowered to sit back and stick to my guns,"
said Staake, whose illustrations appear in the Washington Post,
New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and MAD Magazine.
He did make a couple of changes --- someone suggested the robots'
bodies be more integrated into their tasks --- but for the most
part the finished book hues to Staake's original vision.
is also the first book Staake has completed, start to finish,
in Chatham . The author, his wife Paulette, and their two
children, Ryan and Kevin, moved to Chatham full-time from St.
Louis a year ago after owning a 200-year-old house in the Old
Village since 1995. The neighborhood crept into the book
in several ways, Staake said. A lilac tree on School Street
makes an appearance, the branches of another tree he sees on
his daily walks provided the model for a fictional tree, and
the clouds he watches scud over the land from the open Atlantic
from his deck serve as background.
"It's a case of
taking what I see and reducing it down and making it my own,"
Staake said. "I don't have a tree just like that,
but it's certainly based on what I see walking around the neighborhood."
Although the original
sketches for the book's illustrations were done by hand, the
finished product was completely digital, composed on an Apple
G4 computer in Staake's tiny basement studio. He did most
of the work last January and February, when "it was so cold
I could hear bricks cracking. It sounded like gunshots.
But I was just as happy as could be." The book grew
out of Staake's fascination with tin toys and robots; he'd always
wanted to do a story about robots, and ended up designing the
four characters and assigning each a specific color. Blink,
the chef, is red; zinc, the fix-it robot, is purple; Blip, who
does yard work, is green; and Zip, the yellow robot, "loves
Composing the illustrations
digitally made it possible to throw in little touches such as
actual photographs of clocks on the wall, nuts and bolts tumbling
out of one robot, and Fiesta Ware on the kitchen shelf (taken
from Staake's own collection). The image on the robots'
television is an old black and white Bob Staake robot illustration.
And the woodgrain on the furniture is a scanned image of actual
"I had fun with
that," Staake said of the process of incorporating scanned
digital images into his artwork. "This is the first
book I've incorporated that into." It's "simple
little goofy things" like that, as well as throw-away jokes
like the spray can labeled " Rob o Kleen" that get
the most reaction. (The step-by-step process Staake used to create
the book is detailed on the Web site www.hellorobots.com).
Staake divides his work
into two categories: "Normal Bob" for his hand-drawn
illustrations, and "Digital Bob," for his computer
work, which encompasses more and more of what he does these days,
especially his children's books. His extensive Web site,
www.bobstaake.com, includes separate areas for each, as well
as links to his books, product designs and electronic greeting
sticks to the conventional children's book formula where the
characters are introduced, a problem is created and then solved.
Staake doesn't have a particular philosophy regarding children's
literature, but said he "wants people who read my books,
children and adults, to walkway thinking, 'That's clever.'"
He believes children's books can be seen as "magical,"
like the Little Golden Books of his youth by such authors and
illustrators as Richard Scarry and Tibor Gergley. He's
also a Dr. Seuss fan, and said that author's best story was "The
Sneetches," a thinly veiled take on racism.
Originally from Southern
California , Staake trained as a journalist and is the type of
person who always has dozens of projects going all the time.
"You make a commitment to this stuff," he said. "This
is what you do. I am writing all the time, different stories,
things I'd like to work on." He has anywhere from
a dozen to 20 children's books in various stages, as well as
numerous product designs including toys and games that he's constantly
tinkering with, not unlike the robots in his book.
While he's concentrating
on children's picture books --- he's working on two new ones
right now --- Staake is also devoting time to a long-term project,
"The Complete Book of Cartooning," a "big, important
book that I'm doing at my own pace." Fantagraphics
has also given him the go-ahead to illustrate a new version of
the 19th century German classic "Der Struwwelpeter,"
a collection of 11 morality tales originally composed by Heinrich
Hoffmann. Staake describes the stories as "Hitler
on mescaline writing a children's book. It's that twisted."
Once translated by Mark Twain, the book is "a children's
book for adults," Staake said, and provides a nice counterpoint
to the work he does for more traditional children's book publishers.
With no shortage of work,
Staake finds time every day to walk around the neighborhood or
wander into town for coffee. He enjoys the fact that while
he may be slaving away in his cramped basement studio to meet
a deadline, he knows that one of the most beautiful places on
Earth is just a few steps away.
"Have I seen changes
in my work since I've been here fulltime? No question,"
he said. "I see more of a commitment to my aesthetic
and trust that my instincts are correct. It matters in
very nuanced ways."
meanwhile, has been nominated for the Society of Illustrators
Original Art Show, which showcases the best in children's illustrations.
The show is slated for Oct. 27 to Nov. 24 at the Museum of American
Illustration in New York City .
Cape Cod Chronicle --
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- Hello, Robots
- by Bob
Fall 2004 by Viking Children's Books
- 32 Pages 10"x10"
- Full Color
- ISBN 0670059056
- BUY it Now
high-energy picture book goes a long way on a little plot, thanks
to a clean graphic style, a staccato rhyming text, and a surefire
kid-pleaser of a subject. Young robot fans will thrill to this
simple tale, and the strong rhythm of the text makes it an ideal
candidate for storytimes".
- - School
computer-enhanced artwork that features crisp geometric shapes
and Technicolor hues -- thoughtfully designed, right down to
the diamond-encrusted endpapers."
- - Booklist
charming rhyme ... chock-full of funny visual details with a
thumping rhythm that make this an excellent read-aloud."
- - Kirkus
Staake's bold, graphic art style is perfectly suited to the futuristic
subjects of his clever, humorous story."
- - Amazon.com
Staake's modern, crisp illustrations ... practically jump off
- - Publisher's
illustrations (are) a stylistic collision of Russian constructivism
and pop art that explode with energy playing off of basic geometric
shapes and angles and swimming in saturated colors."
- - Publishers
- + Order
other books by Bob Staake
to Hello Robots -- a 2004 nominee for the Society of
Illustrators prestigious 'Original
celebrating the fine art of children's book illustration!.
our Fun + Games area!
Hello Robots was created as a children's book!
|From the writing of the story to the sketching
of the pages, from the creation of color artwork to
the printing of the pages, the process of creating a picture
book is complex. Go behind the scenes of Hello Robots
to see how the book came to be! Click here
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