Synopses & Reviews
Here Mr.Joyce talks about his collection of children's books, his influences in creating them, and even the Rolie Polie family!
Q: What's new and different about "Rolie Polie Olie?
A: Everything in "Rolie Polie Olie is a robot or a machine. Beds, cars, kitchen appliances, and even the toilet have a personality. But rather than it seeming cold and remote, as computer animation can often feel, I wanted to see if we could make a robot world that felt warm and kind; an almost old-fashioned version of what the future could be. I wanted to take the cutting edge of cybertechnology and create something that felt as though it was done in the 1930s. It's sort of like "Leave It to Beaver meets "The Matrixx or "Blade Runner.
Q: How does the Emmy Award-winning animated TV show "Rolie Polie Olie relate to the book?
A: I had been working on a book about robots when I was approached to do a computer-animated television series. Previously, I had worked on "Toy Story, which was an amazing experience, so I decided to merge my robot paintings with the computer -- to paint with the computer.
I had never collaborated on anything visual before, but with the help of 300 artists and technicians on 3 different continents, I was able to realize this vision. I was able to create an entire 3-D robot universe without ever leaving my desk in Shreveport, Louisiana. My sketches, stories, and songs traveled from my home to Toronto, Paris, and Ho Chi Minh City. I would design every antenna, tree, and doorknob, and the computer would then render my drawings. We didn't know if it would work, but here we are with an Emmy Award-winning television show on the Disney channel and two beautiful picturebooks.
Q: What was your inspiration for "Rolie Polie Olie?
A: The Rolie Polie family is a caricature of my own family, even down to the family dog!
I wanted to evoke the blithe, optimistic feeling of an old Mickey Mouse cartoon or The Little Rascals. Some kind of "Once upon a time" Americana in the robot world, or a "future that never was." The Polie family harks back to what we all wanted as kids; everything is uncomplicated and magically naive. This is a bright and shiny sun-drenched world, moving and swaying to its own catchy oom-pa-pa beat. Everything is round, everything is alive, everyone does the rumba dance.
Q: In your latest picture book, "Snowie Rolie, you bring a winter wonderland to Robot Land. Tell us about your new character, Mr. Snowie.
A: I thought that it would be great if a snowman could really come to life . . . and on this robot planet where everything is living, naturally a snowman would have to be alive too!
When you make a snowman, you put so much effort and personality into something that is going to melt. It is a very poignant process, for no matter what you do, soon you will still have to let go and say good-bye. In "Snowie Rolie, I wanted to actually save a snowman.
Q: What is the theme of "Snowie Rolie?
A: Snowie Rolie is about how your life can change in a single day. Olie and Zowie wish for snow in the beginning of the book, but in the end they have gained a friend. They have learned so much about friendship and farewells, all in the course of one miraculous, snowy day.
Q: Now another one of your classic picture books, George Shrinks, has a new animated TV series on PBS. Where did the idea for "George come from?
A:Ever since I was a little kid, I have loved stories about people who were the wrong size. King Kong was too big for everything, and Stuart Little was way too small. One day I found some of my old toys in a box. Mixed up with all the dinosaurs and army men was a little airplane that had a tiny pilot, and that got me thinking.
What if a boy named George shrank one day while his parents were away? What would he do? Would it be fun? Would it be scary? What would he eat?
So that's what I made "George Shrinks about -- how neat it would be if, just for one day, you were the same size as your toys. And of course I had George fly in that toy airplane.
Q: What influences you as an artist and author?
A: I'm a first-generation TV brat. My brain was welded to the solid-state circuitry of our RCA Viewmaster black-and-white television set. Every day and night I saw all the past, present, and future pulp the tube had to offer. Plus there were comic strips, my family, and other illustrators.
"George Shrinks is "King Kong in reverse. "Nicholas Cricket is "Casablanca with bugs. In "The Leaf Men and "Bently & egg the characters are as dashing and heroic as "Robin Hood. In "Santa Calls there are elements of "The Wizard of Oz, Davy Crockett, The Lone Ranger, Rin-Tin-Tin, Little Orphan Annie, Jules Verne, and the Warner Brothers cartoons. For "Dinosaur Bob I thought about "Paul Bunyan and "Casey at the Bat. Not only does a dinosaur become the family pet, but he also plays baseball and the trumpet, and dances the hokey-pokey. "A Day With Wilbur Robinson is a combination of "Dr. Doolittle, "The Absent-Minded Professor, "Invaders from Mars, and an exaggerated version of my own childhood.
Q: How does your childhood show up in your picture books?
A: I was raised by a congenial horde of southern screwballs. We had artists, bongo players, photographers, opera singers, actors, and geologists in our family. Everyone over fifty had dentures, which were always being mixed up or misplaced. We sometimes played shuffleboard with them. My grandfather had the added bonus of a glass eye that he swore could see even when outside his head. I had an uncle who convinced me he was from another planet. With a household like that, writing and illustrating came easily to me.
"[My friends] were soon hooked on the interactive, hilarious strangeness of cartoonist Sam Brown...his 'toons are funnier than anything you'll find in the Sunday paper." - Wired.com
"The pictures, which he draws with a stylus on a tablet PC, feature simple colors and sticklike figures in a distinctive style that is widely recognized and admired by online regulars." - The New York Times
"[Sam Brown] flirts along the fine line between sparse and bizarre, giving people what they want but rarely giving them what they anticipate." - The Austin Chronicle
Way up high in the ROLIE POLIE Sky
Is a little round planet
Of a really swell guy...
Rolie Polie Olie lives on a fantastic planet of blue skies and friendly robots, where every day is a surprise and literally everything comes to life. Harking back to the happy cartoon shorts of the 1930s, it's a world where machines act like people and where Mom and Dad seem to know all the answers. The whole mechanical Rolie Polie family Ping-Pongs around their smiley teapot house, playing and having fun from morning to noon to night. In Rolie Polie Olie land, it's one for all and all for one, little sister Zowie worships her big brother, and ever-loyal Spot is a pal to the end of time. And when things go wrong and all seems lost, a rumba dance can make everything okey dokey once again.
Olie is the hero of Disney's hit TV show Rolie Polie Olie,which Entertainment Weeklycalled the best new children's show on television this year.Hollywood Reportersaid: Little else on television can match the sheer enchantment of Rolie Polie Olie.This is Olie's introduction into the world of children's books, where he can stand side by side with his creator's other award-winning and best-selling classics, Dinosaur Bob, George Shrinks, Bently &egg, Santa Calls,and The Leaf Men.
Way up high in the Rolie Polie Sky is a little round planet of a really swell guy.
Here's Rolie Polie Olie! Here's his mom . . . and pop . . . Here's his sister, Zowie . . .
For fans of Todd Parr and Oliver Jeffers comes this debut picture book about a boy and his robot friend from the creator of the popular crowd-sourced comic blog, explodingdog.com
For a little boy whos always dreamed of having his own robot, actually getting one isnt what he expected at all. The robot cant fly, or swim, or even talk. All he does is beep beep beep like a toy. But his robot does have some hidden talentsand one of them is being a great friend.
In this unexpectedly poignant story about adjusting expectations, Sam Brown shows that while no one is perfect, a good friend sure comes close.
About the Author
William Joyce lives in Shreveport, Louisiana, with his lovely wife, Elizabeth, and their children, Mary Katherine and Jack. They also have a dachshund named Rose and something else named Rex. Mr. Joyce has produced two animated television shows based on his books: Rolie Polie Olie and George Shrinks. He also produced and designed the animated feature film Robots. Every once in a while he does a cover for The New Yorker. His alarmingly optimistic picture books include Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo, Santa Calls, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, and Bently & Egg.He is currently futzing around on several books and stories that embrace the alleged healing power of heroically scaled silliness.