I'm looking for a children's book I had as a kid in the late '80s or early '90s (and am fairly certain it was new at that time). I live in Canada, but I can't say if it's a Canadian book or not; though it was in English, and am fairly sure it wasn't a translation. I'd say it was about 25-30 pages long, and had full-page cartoony pictures with small amounts of text. I can't remember if the text was poetry or prose; it may have varied from page to page.

Each page spotlighted on one or several related "curious machines" which varied from toys, to industrial machinery, to robotic beings. Each machine was quirky and ridiculous in some way, and were spoken of as if they were sentient to some degree. Examples I can remember include:

  • The Mud Puddler and the Pud Muddler: a machine that loved to make mud, and another that despised mud due to it having so many feet. While the story seemed to suggest the machines were sentient, at least one of them had a human operator. This feud between the two was stopped by a sort of police robot, which looked a bit like a robot duck with a saddle.
  • The Click-Clacker: Looking like a cross between a yellow rubber duck and a c-clamp, this machine mass produced small duck-shaped toys that made a click-clack noise when a button on its head was squeezed. Careful (human) quality assurance methods were in place to make sure this click-clacking was satisfactory. The page also had an old photo of its inventor, who wore a helmet resembling the clackers.
  • Some sort of machine that produces a pinkish foam or taffy.
  • A large orange harvesting and juicing machine. Similar to a backhoe, it had a little driver's canopy on the top, with a parasol for shade. It had a spigot on the back which the farmer/operator was using to fill a glass of juice.
  • The E-Eater: A dark green helicopter-like robot with a grinning mouth that was obsessed with eating the letter E from billboards and other signage. This one I found especially interesting as a kid, as it suggested it was some sort of rogue machine causing mischief, whereas most of the others seemed to have some useful - if wacky - purpose. I believe this was the last entry in the book.
  • 2
    That's the most detailed question I've ever seen. Well done, what a memory! Nov 6, 2018 at 2:09
  • @JamesfromNZ Thanks! If only my Google skills were as good as my memory Nov 6, 2018 at 14:50

1 Answer 1


This is The Book of Foolish Machinery by Donna Lugg Pape.

It contains 'The Click Clacker Machine' and other poems including 'The E Eater Machine' (which I hav r produc d in full b low)

The E-Eater Machine likes to gobble up E's.
It eats all the E's out of words that it sees.
If the E-Eater loses its glasses it takes
The I's out of words, but soon knows its mistakes.
When the E-Eater gets an I up to its face,
It's an I-Dropper, tossing I's any old place.
It's not easy to read with E-Eaters about,
For words look so strang with the E's at n out.
If you s this machin and you'r planning to r ad,
H r 's som advic you c rtainly n d.
Th E-Eater can't fit insid a small spac ,
So g t up and look for a good hiding plac .

enter image description here

  • 6
    I swear, I googled nearly every adjective except "foolish". Boy, do I look... what's the word again... Nov 5, 2018 at 16:56
  • 2
    I found it by search for variations on 'Click Clacker'
    – Valorum
    Nov 5, 2018 at 16:58
  • 1
    Brilliant. I concentrated on the E Eater in my searching, since I wasn't sure "Click Clacker" was the correct name; I figured I wouldn't have much luck trying variations on the theme. Nov 5, 2018 at 17:02
  • 1
    It's a shame though that although the text says the E-Eater eats up uppercase E's, in reality it eats only lowercase e's judging by the evidence. The write apparently didn't pay attention.
    – Mr Lister
    Nov 5, 2018 at 20:39
  • 2
    @Vanguard3000 - I own a very poor thesaurus. It's rubbish and ... {leafs through thesaurus} ... rubbish.
    – Valorum
    Nov 5, 2018 at 22:15

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