Leave it to PET!
March 22, 2009
This is one of the first books in the VizKids line, which are, as you might guess, manga aimed at youngsters. It’s a good idea, because it gets kids reading, they’re thick, so there’s a sense of accomplishment when you finish, and you don’t have to wonder if the content is inappropriate (though ratings sort of eliminate that worry for the most part, I think). They are definitely series written to appeal to children, though. I picked this one up hoping that there would be some facts about recycling in it, but… there’s actually surprisingly little of that, other than the initial bonus of the kid recycling a plastic bottle and getting a little robot in return.
Basically, the book is full of short chapters about Noboru and his little robot, PET, who starts following him around after he is made out of the bottle Noboru recycles. Something in the first chapter reminded me vaguely of Doraemon (maybe it was the Nobita-Noboru names, or the futuristic robot, or the fact that he’s supposed to protect and help Noboru, I don’t know). PET isn’t very helpful though, and usually winds up making small, comedic errors whenever he’s called upon or appears. Sometimes Noboru calls him to help, sometimes PET shows up uninvited, and sometimes the stories are about the eccentric life PET leads and Noboru running across it. The chapters are a few pages long, and are usually just a series of gags where nothing is really gained in the end. The humor is fine, but I think a little kid will get a lot more out of it than I did.
There are some tidbits about recycling, but mostly it’s just new characters that enter the series based on different types of recycling. There’s a little female robot who’s made out of a recycled can, a futuristic robot made out of a different type of plastic than PET, and a couple different robots based on metals that aren’t aluminum. I mean, the fact that Noboru recycles is emphasized again and again, and there’s some additional material in the back about recycling, and the series is very eco-friendly in general, but it’s not really about recycling like I thought it would be.
Amusingly, there are several bonus pages in the back that look like they came straight out of Highlights magazine. There are also a handful of arts and crafts tips throughout the chapters, though always noted that they need to be done with adult supervision (since most of them involve doing something with the plastic bottle).
It’s a pretty fun book, and I have to admit I liked the cartoony illustrations. I don’t know that regular readers of this site will get much out of it, but I do think it’s good for kids.