Graeme Base, The Curse of the Vampire Robot, HarperCollins Publishers, September 2021, 32 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781460754696
Combining spooky with geeky we get Graeme Base’s kooky, The Curse of the Vampire Robot. Set in a futuristic world in the Scottish Highlands, where tech devices are the characters, one of the town’s robots is struck down by the battery draining Voltoid the vampire. An unlikely hero emerges in Gertie Gif, a cleaning droid who volunteers to set out on a quest to ‘deal with’ Voltoid.
Base’s signature detailed illustrations grace the pages, with the distinguishing feature being they are exclusively drawn in black ink. This limited palette lends itself well to the slightly darker themes of the book and highlights the level of detail even further. However, I did feel the antique feel of the black and sepia format seemed a bit at odds with a futuristic tale.
The tale is told in rhyming couplets and cleverly weaves in tech lingo and Scottish references to create an entertaining and pun-filled read for tech-literate readers. Base conjures a world where devices have human-like qualities, there is PC Web – the police officer; software-wolves; MacSpam – the punch-card mainframe; and Gertie Gif – a cleaning droid amongst others.
This is a creative and quirky picture book that mid-upper primary aged children would appreciate for its textual humour and detailed drawings.
Reviewed by Julie Bertola