Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot
By Dav Pilkey
Illustrated by Dan Santat
In Stores April 29, 2014
We are living in the age of the re-boot. What once was sacrilege – messing with a beloved piece of art – is now accepted. Welcomed even. Remix of a top 40 hit? Sure! Another Batman update? Why not! A Fuse #8 Production recently wrote about re-illustrating classic books, and while there are exceptions, I get the sense that the overall feeling isn’t “you CAN’T touch the original”, but rather “if it’s appropriate for the story and brings new readers, go for it”. In the case of the re-illustrated Ricky Ricotta, the young reader definitely comes first. Decked out with brand new artwork from Dan Santat, Dav Pilkey’s series cranks up the appeal (not that it was really hurting). You have these books in your library. Buy them again. This illustration overhaul is worth it.
Ricky Ricotta is your average mouse, if a bit lonely.
“Don’t worry,” said Ricky’s father.
“Someday something BIG will happen,
and you will find a friend.”
So Ricky waited.
As he spends his days navigating school and trying (but failing) to avoid bullies, the Dr. Stinky McNasty is hard at work in his secret cave, creating a mighty robot to destroy the city. But when the evil doctor unleashes his mechanical creation, it refuses to obey, instead becoming a loyal companion to a surprised Ricky. When McNasty attempts revenge with the help of a giant lizard, the Mighty Robot is there to save the day.
While full of dramatic moments, the story maintains a light mood mostly due to the brisk pacing. In the world of Ricky Ricotta, danger doesn’t linger for long. Pilkey also lays relatively low with the humor as well – this doesn’t follow the laugh-a-minute blueprint of the Captain Underpants series.
If you haven’t read this book in a while, the level of the text is quite low. It’s a reminder that there aren’t many books at this level that are this flat-out appealing to kids. And with these updated illustrations, the series has the ability to appeal to a slightly older audience. I’d say grades 1-5 no problem. That’s a rare thing.
The full-color illustrations go beyond a simple update and add new dimension to the story. Santat has given sections of the action full-on graphic novel treatment with great success. The plan is to reissue all seven of the original Ricky Ricotta books (with the first four coming out simultaneously) and then add two brand new adventures early in 2015.
This is a reissue that just makes sense. As much of a lock as there is.
ARC via Scholastic at ALA Midwinter
Also reviewed by LibLaura5.