Any book that features robots dancing around in their underpants is a book worth owning. William Joyce--creator of Dinosaur Bob and George Shrinks--brings his expansive, wildly colored illustrations to the story of a cute, buglike robot and his family. Rolie Polie Olie lives on a faraway planet with his mom and pop, his sister Zowie, and his doggie Spot. They spend a pretty ordinary day playing, working, eating, and getting ready for bed in this delightfully modest tale of robotic family happiness. Joyce's bouncy prose is engaging enough to be read aloud time and again: "You're Rolie hot and Polie tired. Your motor's zapped. Your piston's fired. Yes, okey dokey is the day when all you Rolie did was play." The illustrations are vintage Joyce, with a 1930s deco look that's polished without being soulless. The pictorial lushness is a nice counterpoint to the simplicity of the tale, which devotes a grand full-page spread to the little-known fact that "The Rolie Polie Rumba Dance was always done in underpants!" --Claire Dederer
From Publishers Weekly
Joyce diverges from the hyperbolic, pleasurably bizarre imagery he created for The Leaf Men and Dinosaur Bob in this digitally enhanced but uneventful picture book. Rolie Polie Olie is a robotic child living in a "land of curves and curls," where most objects are rounded and smooth (although the rooms of Olie's teapot-shaped house have corners). Olie himself is comprised of a round yellow head with the circular black eyes of a smiley face. On his spherical torso, he wears red shorts whose dual buttons recall Mickey Mouse's signature pants, and he stands on pliable metallic limbs that resemble pay-phone cords. In this day-in-the-life story, "Rolie Polie Olie/ rolled out of bed./ Brushed his teeth./ Recharged his head." After a breakfast of "Rolie O's," Olie and his parents, sister and dog perform a morning ritual: "The Rolie Polie Rumba Dance/ was always done in underpants!" Olie then helps the family with chores, plays ball (of course), gets in a tiff with his sister, apologizes and goes to bed forgiven. Joyce makes use of round "O"s in his rhymes and liberally applies "Rolie" as an adjective ("Yes, okey dokey is the day/ when all you Rolie did was play"). Thanks to computer manipulation, his plasticine paintings offer crisp edges, flawless high-tech color and a seeming three-dimensionality. Olie's shiny surface doesn't make up for his lack of a personality, but the character practically steps out of the frames, advertising his potential as a toy or animated image. Ages 2-8. (Oct.)
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