New Kids Book ‘Robot Family Adventures’

Apparently, the beginning of April is book publishing time! Last year, I released a book called Pencils and Process. That one took months to write, and was a 150ish page personal account of my experiences returning to art after having been away from it for a decade. This year, my April book release is a kids book called Robot Family Adventures: Moving to a New Home. Right now, it’s only available on Amazon (ebook and paperback) because it’s the easiest and least expensive path available. I also want to get a hardcover distributed to other retailers like Barnes and Noble via IngramSpark, but they don’t currently have free manuscript/cover uploads. From my experience last year, they do have promotions from time to time, so I’ll probably just wait for one to come along. Anyhow, here’s a link – if for some reason it doesn’t work, there’s also one in the sidebar to the right:

The writing experience for this one was quite a bit different. Pencils and Process was naturally a solo affair and was quite time consuming. As I mentioned, it was several months of writing and editing in a verbiage heavy book. Robot Family Adventures, on the other hand, only took a few weeks of drawing/design after the tele-workday was over (and during our quarantined weekends). And it was very much a collaboration with my two girls. They’re still too young to help with writing or drawing, but they helped me with ideas and feedback.

The story is essentially about a robot family (pretty obvious stand-ins for our family) moving to a new home with some very different neighbors. Spoiler alert: the new neighbors are dinosaurs! As with most childrens’ books, this one tries to teach a few lessons. It starts by discussing how moving can be scary, but that your family will be with you. And it goes on to show how it’s fun to meet new people (or dinosaurs) who might be a bit different than you in how they look and the foods they eat.

The Robot Family sidewalk chalk version. The girls later drew a bunch of robo-kittens as part of the family, but unfortunately they were washed away by rain.

The designs of the robot and dinosaur characters are actually somewhat old, related to little cartoons I’ve scribbled into meeting and lecture notes throughout the years. But during our social isolation/self-quarantine life these last few weeks, I’ve refined them quite a bit. This really started because the girls and I have been doing “recess time” outside every afternoon. On days that are nice, I move the cars out of our driveway and we bust out the sidewalk chalk. With the kids’ help, our little chalk crew has created some pretty expansive pavement murals. Recurring themes on our driveway over the past few weeks have been dinosaurs, robots, and other little critters.

Getting back to the book itself, I had a lot of fun getting feedback from the kiddos about scenes they liked and what they thought about the characters. Our oldest even drew her own book that mimicked the same storyline and characters, which gave me a somewhat hard to describe parental joy/pride/gratification feeling. It’s like this happiness that she wanted to spend time with me, and that she liked what I was doing enough to emulate it, plus some pride in her ability to express herself and tell stories through drawings. Complicated I guess, but a great feeling.

Is Dadroid confused because he’s programmed to consume only oil and doesn’t understand eating this green stuff? Or is he pondering the idea that his oil beverage is the compressed fossilized remains of other ancient dinosaurs?

Corn on the cob for the herbivores and burgers for the carnivores…but what are the burgers made of? (obviously this is not explored further)

Another enjoyable aspect of this project for me was to look at the story and artwork from an adult’s perspective. I got a kick out of imagining a possible backstory that naturally wasn’t appropriate for a kids’ book, like why the family had to move from their industrial robot-centered city to basically a forest. Are they the last functioning robots in Robo City? Or maybe they were forced to leave because they deviated from their programming or something. And I thought it was sort of funny how oil is basically organic remains of prehistoric creatures, and the robots drink oil. It really makes some of the scenes seem funnier to me than they actually are.

That was probably a ton of unnecessary information to share about the book. But hopefully someone out there found these ramblings interesting. If you actually managed to stick with this post to the end, I should also mention I’m going to celebrate the book’s release by making the Kindle version free starting tomorrow and ending Friday. Is this is a smart thing to do for a brand new book? No, it probably isn’t. But my thought is maybe the ebook will encourage a few people to buy the physical book. Alongside the Robot Family Adventures giveaway next week, I’ve also set up a “countdown deal” for my first book Pencils and Process. I think it’s going to be $.99 then $2.99 before jumping back to the regular price on Saturday.

Also, there is one favor you could do for me if you buy this book and enjoy it. Amazon’s star review/ratings system weighs heavily into how books are placed in their search results/algorithms. So if your kids got a kick out of this story, those good reviews on Amazon or Goodreads would really help me quite a bit. Hey, call it an early birthday present or something. This is another motivation for me to give the ebook version away over the next couple of days; I’m hoping a few of those that check it out might enjoy it enough to help out the book’s Amazon ratings.

I’m also really interested in details of what you’d like to see more of – did you like certain characters? Want to see some specific things happen? And I’m curious if this is something you would generally want to see another book on, in other words could this be a series? I know my kids are interested in it, but I genuinely have no idea if anyone else will enjoy these robots and their dinosaur neighbors. Let me know those sort of recommendations or thoughts in the comment section here! I’d love to hear about things like that.

Thanks for reading – I hope you enjoy the book!

Checking out some author copies, those colors are pretty bright! I guess that’s good for a kid’s book. I admit I did fight my natural urge to make everything a shade of gray.


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