annette simon on robot zombie frankenstein (and a giveaway)!


You will need:

1 spritely, insanely creative author/illustrator named Annette Simon (pictured above)

1 shortish purple-y robot with three blue chest buttons
1 taller green robot with orange necktie and blue chest lines

cool endpapers!

a full smorgasbord of colorful, eye-popping geometric shapes
a generous measure of high voltage suspense
a predilection for monsters, the walking dead, pirates, superheroes, space aliens, comic disguises, chefs, and

– – –
*wait for it*

– – –


*thunderous applause*


Combine ingredients to create a hilarious bout of one-upmanship between the two robots with a rollicking assemblage of booty body parts and costume changes perfect for developing building and amalgamation skills using shapes, sizes, colors, layers, and proportions.

Reboot as needed and read the book all over again. And again.

Eat BIG pieces of pie with lots of friends. Laugh, spread glee, re-assemble split sides with magic forks.


* * *

Annette Simon, our favorite pie-loving, robot-making picture book creator, is here to tell us all about her wildly popular recent release, Robot Zombie Frankenstein! (Candlewick, 2012), which has become an instant favorite with imaginative kids and short grown-ups who love to boost their creativity and may be wondering what to do with their spare body parts. 🙂

The fun and excitement escalates with each page turn as the robots try to best each other with even more outrageous guises: oh, robot zombie? why not robot zombie FRANKENSTEIN? robot zombie frankenstein PIRATE?! robot zombie frankenstein pirate SUPERHERO! and on and on until — the ultimate face-off, CHEF!!

Cherry Pie Cupcakes!

See why I love these robots? They thought of CHEF at the same time — and then, one comes out with PIE and the other with FORK, and bliss of all bliss, they eat said pie and become good buddies again. Yes, it’s all about the power of food fostering friendship. My kind of story! And I just happen to love love love Groucho glasses, mustaches, neckties, and did I mention THE PIE?! 🙂

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in 3 . . .

2 . . .

1 . . .


Why robots? Which was the initial spark, wanting to write a story about competition, or wanting to find a story that would spotlight shapes, colors, and the concept of building?

No, I didn’t have a desire to write about a certain subject. The robots just kind of showed up one day, hungry for mischief.

You partly “blame” your little sister Denise’s trickiness for this story. Can you share an anecdote or two from your childhood where the two of you tried to outwit each other? Who usually won?

I promised Denise I would not tell any stories. (I won. Always. But don’t tell her.)

Annette and little sis Denise at Grandma Carroll’s house.

You’ve managed to create two very endearing robots here. Are they based on real people, and if so, which of their personality traits did you transfer to the robots?

Thanks, Jama. Besides my sister and myself, the robots sometimes remind me of my brothers, and often of my sons. My youngest wanted to be a chef, and showed up at his fifth birthday party wearing a pirate hat and a tie. My oldest was more into eating than cooking, plus music, superheroes, dragons and outer space. They both loved to build strange and wonderful things.

Cherry Pie Cookies!

How did you make the pictures for this book? 

Robot and Robot appeared while I was querying agents with other picture books. When Brenda Bowen (agent extraordinaire) asked what else I had in my portfolio, I sent her a few spreads, along with these early thumbnails. Lucky me, she saw something in them. (Despite that at that point, the robots faked sudden naps so they could sneak away the pie.)

Annette’s thumbnail sketches

I wrote and drew this book in Quark, which is a layout program used by old art directors who have not yet learned Word, InDesign or Illustrator. I love Quark. Basically, I choose a photo-box shape (like a circle or rectangle), size it and color it. Then I layer that shape on top of others. Voila! Easy-peasy.

The pie theme has always belonged, as you’ll see in this early sequence [below]. At this point, there was no Frankenstein. The robot zombies had just run off-camera, only to return as Robot Zombie Ninja Ghosts.







What’s your favorite disguise? Whom do you most identify with – robot, zombie, Frankenstein, pirate, superhero, outer space invader or chef?

I believe that parents (certainly mine), friends, teachers and librarians are true superheroes. And they are always in disguise.

I’d have become a prima ballerina, if I ever took ballet. [My brother] John still loves cars. And Dee still likes things she can cuddle — especially four-legged ones.

Annette (9), her brother John (4), and sister Denise (8) in their Halloween costumes.

You cite your grandmother’s delicious pies as part of the inspiration for this book. Can you share her cherry pie recipe with us?

My mom’s mom, Margaret Carroll of Fowler, Indiana, made incredible pies. (Also, German chocolate cake with maple icing. And her Thanksgiving dressing…!) I wish I had her recipes, or ‘receipts,’ as she called them. Alas, she worked her magic with a pinch of this and a dab of that, straight from her head and heart.

Baby Annette with her mom and Grandma Carroll

Please share a fond memory involving cherry pie or any other unforgettable pie.

I don’t remember a lot of desserts in our house, but there were plenty at Grandma’s–she was like the Willy Wonka of baked goods. AND, she would let us have them whenever we wanted. For breakfast? Before dinner? As a snack to further delay bedtime? No problem. Served with cold chocolate milk in tumblers like these:

via Lin’s Antiques and Collectibles

While I didn’t know chess pie as a kid, I discovered I loved it when we lived in North Carolina. Author Kimberly Willis Holt shared this recipe for buttermilk chess pie on her blog a few years ago. Thank you, KWH. The pie is fantastic, fairly easy to make, and brings back warm memories of a time when my own family was new.

Buttermilk Chess Pie via phandcp

Will Robot and Robot be starring in any future books? If so, can you tell us what they’ll be up to next?

Affirmative! I’m happy to report that their next book will be a very loud read-aloud, called ROBOT BIGMOUTH SMARTYPANTS!, also by Candlewick Press.

Great news (we’ll get our earplugs ready)! Thanks for roboting with us today, Annette!

Now, let’s all enjoy the Robot and Robot book trailer, produced by Karen Jacobs and Mark Bradley (who’s also a chef!):

* * *

written and illustrated by Annette Simon
published by Candlewick Press, 2012
Picture Book for ages 4+, 40 pp.
Cool themes: friendship, costumes, disguises, competition, art, collage, building, shapes, colors, lines, creativity
**Spring 2012 Indie Kids Next List Pick
***A great choice for Halloweenie storytimes!


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♥ MORE ♥

Annette Simon’s Official Website

Robot  and Robot Facebook Page

Robot Zombie Frankenstein Fun Kit for lots of downloadable fun including puzzles, bot building, and pie finder!

♥ Fun interview with Mr. Schu at Watch. Connect. Read.


* * *

P.S. Is it just me or do all circles look like pies and cakes, triangles like apple turnovers, semi-circles like dumplings, rectangles like poptarts, ovals like almonds and avocados? 🙂


*ROBOT ZOMBIE FRANKENSTEIN!. Copyright © 2012 by Annette Simon. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.


19 thoughts on “annette simon on robot zombie frankenstein (and a giveaway)!

  1. What a great way to start the day, with Annette, robots, and pie! I loved all the family photos (I remember those baby-doll dresses and Mary Jane shoes!) and pics of pie and the tribute to grandmother as the “Willy Wonka of baked goods.”


    1. I miss my patent leather Mary Janes! Still remember how crushed I was when the shoe store salesman said I was too big for them. Annette and Denise are such cuties. Want to pinch their cheeks :).


  2. Good old memories, & now new ones with Robots! Love the old pictures and the food pics & that diagram of the art process. Great to see all, plus pie! Those cookies are adorable. My favorite costume is a clown-love to wear all kinds of faces. Our school does a huge Halloween celebration! Thanks Jama.


    1. Oh, didn’t know you liked clowns! I always liked their BIG shoes :). Those pie cookies and cupcakes were served at Annette’s launch parties/booksignings I think. Great refreshments!


  3. I’m so glad I found your blog, Jama. What fun it was reading about Robot Zombie F. and about the author’s childhood. The pictures are excellent. Thanks for bringing Annette Simon to us!

    Keep writing…


    1. Thank YOU for creating this fun book and of course for THE PIE! Looking forward to the next Robot and Robot book :). Hello, Annette’s Mom!


  4. Believe it or not one of my best costumes (not disguise) ever was made by my Mom one Halloween–I was a robot. (1960s) She cleverly decorated a box that I wore. My favorite disguise is a witch; a spider witch with a cobweb drawn on my face and spiders hanging from my hat. This book looks delightful. Thanks to you both.


    1. I like that you’re about both costumes and disguises! Cool that you were actually a robot one Halloween :). Have fun this Halloween disguised as a witch!


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