Friday, May 22, 2015

Clink ~ and illustrator interview

manufactured by Kelly Dipucchio and Matthew Myers
32 pages; ages 4-8
Balzer & Bray, 2011

theme: friendship, robots

opening:   As far as robots go, Clink has his fair share of problems. He was rusty (even his dust had rust). He was squeaky (even his creaks made squeaks). And a day didn't pass without something falling off.

Clink is an "old-school" robot. He doesn't make cookies, fix hair, or do the laundry. He burns toast... and nobody, it seems, wants a robot that burns toast. Except one boy for whom Clink is "just right".

What I like about this book: Clink is fun to read. He is a klutz and he needs more than cosmetic repair, but he's got a good robot heart. I love the kid who takes him home... we see him and Clink in the garage workshop, with notes tacked to the walls: "New Head Ideas for Clink" and "Radio stations Clink can play".

I also love the end pages; they are blueprints for a "Clink Domestic Automaton (patent no. 0169432-Z)". White drafting and notes on a blue background, with side views, front views, rear views.

I love the end pages so much that I just had to ask illustrator Matthew Myers about them. He was kind enough to answer Three Questions:

Sally: How did the blueprint-like end pages evolve?

Matthew: Since Clink was my first book, I had no idea what was possible. Donna Bray, our editor, asked if there was anything I wanted to do for end papers. "What are those?" I asked. Blueprints seemed like a natural choice, since I had illustrated the book by then and had supposed Clink was created in 1938 (see title page of the original packaging). The general notes are from the engineer - tips on how best to utilize the robot. I imagined a stoic engineer writing these notes in all earnestness.

Sally: What sort of research did you do for your illustrations?

Matthew: Robots are so much a part of my visual vocabulary that I didn't really need to do any research. I grew up in the 60s, and clunky robots were on TV all the time. I grew up with tools, so Milton's workshop is not a stretch for me. My dad was always building things, so of course I wanted to pound and saw and drill, too.

Sally: What sort of media did you use for your illustrations?

Matthew: I drew the blueprints with pen and then tidied up in Photoshop. All the others are oil paint on illustration board. I work larger than final illustration (about 120%) so when the art is reduced to fit the book it looks crisper. You can check out how I work over on my website,

Beyond the book: Check out the book trailer. Then have fun with these robot-related activities.

Draw a robot: If you love robots, draw a design for one. You could make a set of blueprints that show the systems and parts, or just draw (and paint) what your robot would look like. Make sure to include some user-tips from the engineer.

Make a Robot Suit: All you need is a large paper grocery bag, a box for a helmet, some buttons, bottle caps, and stuff to glue on, scissors, crayons and markers, duct tape (of course) and maybe some foil. Get ideas for a paper bag vest here, and robot helmet here.

Make a Balancing Robot out of cardstock. You can download a free printable design. Then color, cut out, and add some pennies for weights. Balance your robot on your finger, your nose, the tip of a pencil, a clothesline...

Make a Mini-Robot out of stuff from the junk drawer. This is for kids (and parents) who like to mess around with batteries, motors... directions and inspiration here

Today is PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture BooksReview copy from the library.


  1. I have read several reviews of Clink the robot. Your review provides great additional information. I really appreciate the 3 questions. Thanks!

  2. Love your mini interview and activities. CLINK is flawed and adorable, i think that is why kids and adults alike love him.

  3. The robot suit is a Halloween favorite! Dryer vent hose makes great arm/leg covers. :)

  4. What a great interview. I remember the earliest robots and they are just like Matthew shows them in CLINK! I also liked the video as it really gave me a better sense of the illustrations. Really great end papers!

  5. Love the book, Sue...and the interview was like yummy frosting on the cake. I laughed when Matthew said about end papers, "What are those?" He sure learned fast!!!!!

  6. I've been saving bits and bobs for ever, waiting to build one too - but it may be the mice in the garage that beat me too it!

  7. How fun to get insights into the illustrator's work! And that Kelly DiPucchio--a talented lady and a fellow Michigander! :) Our local chapter of 826 writers workshops has a robot workshop that kids love. I'm going to share this book with the teacher. Thanks!