Press + Media Reviews
Say hi, ask them a question, or just tell them why you like Hello Robots! Click here to read email comments


 

Hello Robots was originally published on September 1, 2004.

 

If you're a book reviewer or writer and need to find a media contact, please use these links:

+ Bob Staake (Author and Illustrator)

+ Viking Children's Books (Subsidiary + Related Rights)

+ Media Sources: For a hi-res illustration sample that may be used for web or publication to accompany a review of Hello Robots or to promote the book, please download this (250K jpeg, 200 dpi) cover illustration

 


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 (2004)

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 home--literally.

- Booklist (2004)

 


 

HELLO, BOB!
Chatham, Massachusetts Artist Uses Digital Technology To Create Children's Picture Books
by Tim Wood (Cape Cod Chronicle)


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.
           

"Hello, Robots!" 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 to clean."

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 woodgrain.

"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 cards.

"Hello, Robots!" 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."

"Hello, Robots!" 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 -- 9/30/04

----------------

 

Related Pages:

+ Order other Bob Staake books. click here

+ Learn more about Bob Staake. click here

+ See how Hello Robots was created. click here

+ Download a hi-res illustration sample for reprint/web. click here

+ Link to HelloRobots.com with these web-ready buttons. click here

+ Learn more about Bob Staake book signings. click here

+ Request info on subsidiary rights and licensing for Hello Robots. click here

+ Schedule a talk/presentation by the author/illustrator. click here

Untitled Document

Hello, Robots
by Bob Staake
Published Fall 2004 by Viking Children's Books
32 Pages 10"x10"
Full Color
ISBN 0670059056
BUY it Now
 
 
"A 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 Library Journal
 
"Fascinating computer-enhanced artwork that features crisp geometric shapes and Technicolor hues -- thoughtfully designed, right down to the diamond-encrusted endpapers."
- Booklist
 
"A charming rhyme ... chock-full of funny visual details with a thumping rhythm that make this an excellent read-aloud."
- Kirkus Reviews
 
"Bob Staake's bold, graphic art style is perfectly suited to the futuristic subjects of his clever, humorous story."
- Amazon.com
 
"Bob Staake's modern, crisp illustrations ... practically jump off the page."
- Publisher's Weekly
 
"Staake'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 Weekly
 
+ Order other books by Bob Staake
 
 
 
Congratulations to Hello Robots -- a 2004 nominee for the Society of Illustrators prestigious 'Original Art Show', celebrating the fine art of children's book illustration!.
 
 
 
PLAY in our Fun + Games area!
The Hello Robots have created some extra-special puzzles, activities and interactive goodies for you! Check them out by clicking here
 
LEARN how 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
 
QUIZ Time!
 
So, you think you really know the Hello Robots? Then test your robo-knowledge and take our ten question quiz! Click here
 
ORDER cool Hello Robots stuff!
From t-shirts and mugs, wall clocks to lunch boxes, there's a Hello Robots promotional item that's perfect for you! See all the items now
 
BUILD your OWN Hello Robot!
If you've got a color printer and a pair of scissors, you'll have a blast creating your OWN 3-D Hello Robots! Start building a Hello Robot now!


[an error occurred while processing this directive]