If you don’t know the name Nathan Hale, I’d like to be the one to introduce him to you. He’s a GeekMom treasure who needs to be discovered. No, he’s no relation to the historical figure (who was a spy for the Continental Army and was best remembered for saying, “”I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country”). I’m sure Nathan Hale, the author, is very patriotic, but just for the record, he had nothing to do with the Revolutionary War.
The author Nathan Hale has a great new book, a Christmas classic for any geek kid, or geek parent who reads to a geek kid. It’s called The Twelve Bots of Christmas, and is just the thing for the mechanically minded who might have grown weary with the same old holiday songs and books.
As you can guess, this clever book is a takeoff on the Twelve Days of Christmas song, and it’s robots and gears all the way. The first stanza, along with its bright, humorous illustrations, is enough to make you crave more.
“On the first day of Christmas, Robo-Santa gave to me … a Cartridge in a Gear Tree!”
Fast forward a few pages and you’ll find the hilarious ‘Three Wrench Hens’.
The book is full of bright illustrations that will delight your holiday loving geek kid. If you’ve never seen Santa as a robot before, you’re in for a treat, as you share this entertaining book with the child you love.
Then, when you’re all done with all things holiday related, sit back and explore Mr. Hale’s website. His blog is updated often, with fun cartoons and activities like dragon naming contests. Older kids might just want to bookmark this page.
One of his best books is a graphic novel he illustrated, called Rapunzel’s Revenge by Dean Hale and Shannon Hale. If you follow a link on his web page, you’ll find really cool looking paper dolls of this tougher, capable version of Rapunzel.
I was able to catch up with Mr. Hale this week and pin him down long enough for him to answer some questions about his blog and his newest book. I should have known his answers to my questions would be as entertaining as the books he produces. Here’s a bit more from one of my newest favorite author/illustrators.
Where did you get the idea for Twelve Bots?
I’ve always liked the Twelve Days of Christmas song, but I’ve always thought the gifts were super lame. Who would want to get birds for Christmas? The gold rings are really the only cool gift, the rest are birds and people. I assume the people leave after the initial dancing/milking/leaping event, but you are still stuck with a bunch of birds to take care of. In any case, I’ve always enjoyed getting hi-tech electronics for Christmas, and what is more hi-tech than a robot?
Did anyone help you come up with the unique ideas for each robot?
I originally did the bots as a twelve day Christmas post on my blog (www.spacestationnathan.com) An editor I’d worked with before saw the posts and immediately wanted to make them into a book. Some of the names were tweaked to make the book a little better. Readers of the original blog will remember that instead of the line, “A cartridge in a Gear Tree” I had used “A Mecha-Partridge in a Cyber-Tree.” Yeah, “Cartridge” definitely fits the rhyme better.
Did you get stuck on any of them, as you were trying to ‘match’ the traditional song?
I worked really hard to avoid using multiples of the same robo-prefix. The word “Bot” for example, was tempting to use over and over again (drum-bot, dance-bot, bird-bot, etc.) Luckily, there are a LOT of robo-prefixes out there. Mecha-, Robo-, Cyber- etc. I’m sure there are even some that I missed.
Which was the hardest one to come up with?
The two that were the most trouble were the “Droids-a-dancing” and the “Beat-Bots Thumping.” My editor and I went back and forth of how to work those ones out just right. The funny thing is, those two were also the illustrations that needed the most revising and changing. On the other hand, the two easiest were the “Turbo-Doves” and the “Wrench Hens.” And, strangely, those illustrations are virtually unchanged since I originally posted them.
Will your family Christmas card be robot- related this year?
Oh no! I haven’t done ANYTHING about my Christmas card yet. Aaagh!
Your website is very interactive and kid oriented. What’s your main goal with your blog?
I’ve run my blog for about a year and a half now, I post every weekday, five times a week. I don’t have a specific goal, really. I have a lot of ideas, some better than others, and it is nice to test them with an audience on the blog. Some of my stories and projects are things that just wouldn’t make sense to publish as a book. Last September, for example, I ran a thirty page story called “Sgt. Snookums: Patrol Cat, ” which was a spooky story about a cat going undercover to break up a high-grade catnip smuggling ring. It’s a great story, but not something I think a publisher would want to try to sell.
Do you ever have trouble coming up with new material for the blog?
Never. I’ve got a lot of stories and ideas that I’ll never get to. I was afraid I’d run out of ideas, but the more I blog, the more ideas I get. Writers out there, if you are short on story ideas, fire up a blog and make yourself post daily on it. Trust me, you’ll get ideas.
What fun things do you have planned for this holiday season, to promote the Twelve Bots book?
This year I’m re-doing the Twelve Bots, but in LEGO form! I’ve been working on it for weeks! Here’s a preview:
(Side note: GeekMom will be posting pictures of Mr. Hale’s Lego Bots for the twelve days leading up to Christmas. Stay tuned!)
Is there anything else you ‘d like to share with our readers?
Have a Merry Robo-Christmas! And never, EVER give someone a BIRD or a PERSON as a gift. Rings are okay, but robots are best.
If, like me, you’re convinced that this book belongs in your personal holiday collection, pick up a copy (or two) for the robot loving kids in your life. Then get ready to read it over and over again. (And keep the Geekmom.com website bookmarked so you don’t miss the posting of Mr. Hale’s Lego Bot creations!)
Judy Berna is the amputee wife of an archaeologist, the mother of four children, ages 13-22, and the author of her first book, "Just One Foot: How Amputation Cured My Disability." After living in NH, MO, D.C., UT and NY, she and her family have finally settled in a mountain town in Colorado.