When M started nursery, just over 2 years ago, she soon got a name for herself. She would turn up for her play session and announce that she wasn’t M but rather Gilbert (the Great), Suzi (or sometimes Sam, George or Alice), Krik, or any other character from the books we had been reading together that morning. It became a running joke – the staff soon learned to ask, “So who are you today?” and she’d always have a different answer. Given this history, when I found Today I am A Robot by Jane Bottomley at the library and read the first line to M and J, a broad smile soon spread across my face.
The first page of this short story, probably aimed at the toddler crowd but which M (at 5 and a half) has also been enjoying, shows a young girl waking up and getting out of bed, accompanied by the text “It’s time to decide who to be.” This is exactly what M seemed say to herself each day we went to nursery. Our young girl in the book decides that today is the day she is going to be a robot and the rest of the book follows her day dressed up as a robot until it is time for bed.
The story, told in rhyme, is full of recognizable scenarios which appeal to M and J – walking around making lots of banging noises, playing on a climbing frame with a pretend “raygun” (a spanner), carrying the shopping for mum (having been programmed as a good robot to do so ). The rhythm and rhyme make for anticipation when turning the page and the illustrations are homely and familiar, full of fun detail (eg a notepad with robot designs on the girl’s floor, the drink spilling out of the knocked over beaker), the most important of which (of course) is the homemade robot costume.
This pleasant book isn’t going to change anyone’s life. Whilst I won’t be rushing to buy my own copy, even though the illustrations are nice and the text is easy to read, it was one of those reads that just hit the spot at the right moment in time, if you know what I mean. If you come across a copy in your own library (or any of the other books in the “Today I am” series) do pick it up and see what you think.
No prizes for guessing what we got up to having read the book umpteen times… Yep, we raided the shed for boxes and lids and scrap bit and bobs to create our own robot costumes. We were out of silver foil and so simply painted our boxes grey. J also managed to paint quite a lot of herself and the table…
In fact, I didn’t have enough boxes big enough so inspired by Pingu’s Moon Adventure M’s robot head was made from a colander – a stroke of genius as J became mesmerised sticking pipecleaners into it – a good 20 minutes of quiet activity!
Once the painted boxes were dry the girls used copious amounts of glue to stick plenty of old lids (ie buttons) and packaging (ie control panels) on to their robot bodies.
The costumes had to be left to dry for a few hours because so much glue was used, but it was worth the wait! For the evening I had two splendid robots about the house:
Unfortunately they didn’t take to programming very well
Today I am A Robot: ** (2 stars)
Robots, it would appear, like to dance! Our robot soundtrack included:
And if you’re after more robot inspiration try these ideas:
Today I am A Robot was perfectly pitched to read to J, but a robot book that worked well for M, with a more complex storyline and really wonderful illustrations was Benjamin McFadden and the Robot Babysitter by Timothy Bush which I reviewed here. Do you have any favourite robot books?