Wendel's Workshop by Chris Riddell

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Wendel's Workshop by Chris Riddell

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Magda Healey
Reviewed by Magda Healey
Summary: Great pictures with a lot of fantastic constructions and funny robots, good story and a message that mixes healthy anarchic messiness with a subtle anti-waste message make for a winning mix for children aged 3 to about 6.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: October 2007
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0230017801

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Wendel is a mouse and an inventor/engineer. He lives in a workshop and invents (i.e. builds) things all the time. If something doesn't work, he just chucks it down the chute and it ends up on a gigantic scrap heap outside.

One day Wendel decides that it's time to tidy and makes a robot called Clunk to help him. However, Clunk is somehow hapless and thus ends up on a scrap heap while Wendel creates a super-tidying robot named Wendelbot. Wendelbot works indeed, in fact he tidies everything perfectly, including shredding umbrellas and reducing machinery to bolts & raw materials, and eventually lays his eyes on Wendel himself...

Having escaped to the scrap heap, Wendel enrols Clunk's help and produces a small army of robots to reclaim his workshop and overpower Wendelbot.

It's a wonderful little book. As other creations of Chris Riddell, Wendel's Workshop has exuberant, perfectly flowing graphics, slightly surreal, extremely engaging, with humour and heaps of expression.

The machines and robots Wendel creates are a joy to explore: reminding me of Little Robots & Max Ernst, Maurice Sendak & Ernst Gombrich and probably many others I can't put my finger on. I don't know how many of you used as a child to imagine complex constructions of blocks, pulleys, cogs, belts and levers that would perform simple,(and not so simple tasks) , but there is something inherently magical about such contraptions (as evidence in the game of, nomen omen, Mousetrap).

The story is told simply but fluently and although without any language fireworks, complements the artwork very well.

And the whole book has a wonderfully anarchic message: the awesome Wendelbot, constructed to be a perfect tidying machine becomes, in fact, an agent of destruction and entropy. The inefficient robots are nothing but reflections of human imperfection, and terryfying Wendelbot a warning about dangers of fanatic attitude to, well, just about anything. Tidying is good, but not too much. There is also a little nod towards recycling and reusing (as the rescue comes from the scrap heap).

All in all recommended to children aged from 3 years old to whatever the upper limit for picture books is.

Thanks to the publishers for sending this volume to the Book Bag.

If this book appeals to you then you might also like to look at Baby Brains and RoboMum which has a similar message that automation can be taken too far!

Buy Wendel's Workshop by Chris Riddell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wendel's Workshop by Chris Riddell at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Wendel's Workshop by Chris Riddell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wendel's Workshop by Chris Riddell at Amazon.com.


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