CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 7 . . . . December 1, 2000
Ricky Ricotta's Giant Robot: An Adventure Novel.
Dav Pilkey. Pictures by Martin Ontiveros.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Inc., 2000.
111 pp., pbk., $4.99.
Grades 2 - 4 / Ages 7 - 9.
Review by Joan C. Simpson.
Although the cover calls this book an "adventure novel," it is really an adventure comic in novel
format. Ricky, a small timid mouse in little boy clothes, is bullied by three older "boys" until he
bounces a kickball off evil Dr. Stinky's head. Dr. Stinky drops and breaks his robot controller,
releasing the Giant Robot who becomes Ricky's friend and protector. Of course, Dr. Stinky builds
a monster to get revenge. There is a battle between the monster and the robot which the robot
wins. Eventually, the robot puts Dr. Stinky in jail, and they live happily ever after.
Martin Ontiveros's bold outline comic style illustrations depict actions and feelings. He uses
typical comic techniques, such as enlarged drops around faces to indicate anxiety and curved lines
to indicate path of motion. The illustrations dominate the two to six lines of text per page.
Typical of a comic book, there is littler characterization; the focus is on plot. It is a classic tale of
good vs evil, and good wins. The book includes instructions for drawing the robot and the
monster. It also has a gimmick which may appeal to children but could limit the shelf-life of the
book. This is a flip-o-rama book. Readers are instructed to hold the book down with the left hand
and then to hold the lower right corner between thumb and index finger and flip the page back and
forth quickly to animate the image.
The gimmicks, plot and bold illustrations, including the prominent raised fist of the Giant Robot
on the cover, are sure to appeal to reluctant male readers. However, unless there is a serious need
in your library, I would not recommend this book for purchase. It is much better suited for
inclusion in a student book club flyer for individual student purchase.
Recommended with Reservations.
Joan C. Simpson is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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