Wendel’s Workshop, by Chris Ridell, is perfect for any child ages 3-8 that enjoys robots. The illustrations are wonderful and each page reminds me of an “I Spy” page. Wendell, a mouse, is an excellent inventor, that recycles anything he can find to create his robots, and sometimes his designs just don’t work correctly. When this happens he throws them down into the scrap heap outside of the workshop. However, he still can’t keep things “tidy. Wendell decides to build a robot that can “tidy up” for him, and the adventure begins. First, he builds Clunk, that tries very hard, but does everything wrong. The children will laugh at Clunk, but when Clunk is dropped into the scrap heap they may be a little concerned. Next, Wendell designs and builds a magnificent and huge Wendelbot that cleans and cleans and never stops. Finally, he decides to “tidy” up Wendel and drops him down the chute and out to the scrap heap. As Wendel sits on top of the scrap heap, you can feel his sadness and loneliness. Clunk reappears to help Wendel regain his workshop and defeat the Wendelbot by using all the scrap pieces to make an army of robots. The last page is another ” I spy” type page. You discover that Wendel never again drops anything out on to the scrap heap. In fact, on the last page you will discover how Wendel even reuses the Wendelbot.
Take time to do a picture walk beginning with the front and back cover. The back cover is important because it shows the chute from the workshop to the scrap heap. The scrap heap will be important in the story. Next, spent time on the inside cover . It is filled with blueprint designs for robots, and sets the stage for the the mouse inventor. Finally, do a picture walk, go through each page enjoying the illustrations (no reading). Talk about what the illustrations make you wonder and then make predictions about what you think will happen.
Stop and talk about the predictions that you made and if they were correct.
Select two or three words that you can use to expand your child’s vocabulary You might consider these words:
scrap heap=junk pile=items not needed=left overs
tidy= clean=pick up=put your toys away
inventor=builder of things=you are an inventor when you build with blocks and legos
Go back in the story and use the illustrations to talk about how Wendel and Clunk are “feeling” during different times in the story.
Together with your child do a quick retell of the story. Developing the ability to retell a story is a foundational piece for early literacy.
You might want to take pieces from your recycling bin and together make a robot with your child. Your robot can be part of the “robot war” that occurred that morning. Make up another part to the story to describe how your robot helped to win back the workshop.