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Review: Welcome to Your Awesome Robot by Viviane Schwarz

Welcome to Your Awesome Robot
By Viviane Schwarz

Flying Eye Books

ISBN: 9781909263000
Grades PreK-2
In Stores April 16, 2013

Find it at:
Schuler Books | Your Library

While the concept of library makerspaces for teens and adults has been getting buzzy lately, youth librarians will tell you we’ve been getting crafty with young patrons for years. Welcome to Your Awesome Robot fits in with the current D.I.Y. movement by focusing on a staple object of childhood creativity – the simple cardboard box. Viviane Schwarz (There Are No Cats in This Book) has created a unique mash-up of graphic novel, how-to, and activity book perfect for young cardboard engineers – and, really, what kid isn’t?

The first page sets the scene:

A blue-haired girl opens her mystery box and finds a bunch of air – and a slim book. This book. It’s a guide to creating a cardboard robot, from the basics of making eye holes (ahem, a “visor”), to advanced features like internal storage boxes and working dials. Alternating between paneled comic pages and instructional diagrams, an awesome robot is born.

This book is made for kids to read with grown-ups (or “assistants”, as the instructions call them). Given this, it makes sense that the vocabulary is higher than your average PreK-2nd grade book. It also fits with the robot theme (last I checked, robots don’t do slang or simple words).

Printed with bright spot colors on uncoated paper, the production of Welcome to Your Awesome Robot is appealing. It’s a paperback, with the trim size of a large picture book but slimmer. The elusive shelf appeal is strong with this one.

Will it work in a library? I think so. We circulate the Dork Diaries and Wimpy Kid activity books without much fuss. While there are cut-outs – including labels and displays – the main character makes a point of mentioning that she’s going to make her own, rather than take scissors to the book. To this I say, “thanks, kid”.

In the grand scheme Welcome to Your Awesome Robot is a fairly specific book – there’s a purpose here that makes it more of a how-to than a story. But if there’s cardboard in the vicinity, look out. I can see librarians creating a robot-themed program with this book as inspiration. In short – a wonderfully distinct book, and a good one to have on hand.

Review copy from the publisher.

Click here for more images from Welcome to Your Awesome Robot at the Flying Eye Books website.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Great to read your take on this as it ‘s one of this spring’s favourite books in our home – I think Viviane Schwarz has got it so right when it comes to letting kids take the lead – the assistants are told in no uncertain manner that this is about the kids’ imaginations, and the grownups shouldn’t take over.

  2. My son wants this book right now. He likes robots too and building. Good call!

  3. Yes! The cardboard box is being rediscovered. If you are in the Chicago area you might want to visit the Chicago Children’s Museum exhibit called “Unboxed”. It’s an adventure in cardboard and “unpacking children’s imaginations.”
    As a former school librarian, cardboard boxes became puppet theaters for storytelling and shoe boxes were used as dioramas to continue the conversation about setting, plot and character in a favorite story. I regularly share ideas on cardboard box usage for art projects, imaginative play and sustainability on Facebook and Pinterest under the name LuvABox. Hope you find it useful.