I’ve always had a soft spot for robots. It must be my Japanese upbringing, watching cartoons that starred giant robots every day after school. So, no wonder The Wild Robot grabbed my attention immediately with its strange title and cute cover illustration.
The Wild Robot. The title immediately jumps out at you. How can a robot be wild? But on the cover is a robot on top of a mountain, no civilization nearby. What is going on here?
A cargo ship carrying 500 crates containing brand-new robots sinks in a hurricane. Only one crate survives, and the robot Roz finds herself shipwrecked on a deserted island. With no prior memory, she assumes that the island is her home. Alone on the island, she quickly realizes that in order to survive the wilderness, she must learn from the creatures around her.
We spend a year on the island with Roz, as she learns about her environment and forges friendships with the island’s creatures.
Author/illustrator Peter Brown’s middle-grade debut is a quirky spin on the fish-out-of-water story. Because she’s a robot, she feels no emotions in the beginning, and this makes her resilient. The wilderness beats down on her repeatedly, but she keeps going because she doesn’t feel discouragement. Awkward encounters with creatures on the island are incapable of shaming her. As she learns how to survive the wilderness and forges new friendships, she begins to learn what it is to feel and to live, not merely survive.
Roz is a good soul. She’s a survivor. She’s a helper. Her journey is rewarding to read because her arc shows her growing into a fully developed person (or wild robot)—an echo of what we all must do.
The chapters are short and succinct. Three pages at most, they make their point and move on, which is great for kids (and adults) with short-attention spans. Peter Brown’s illustrations are charming too. His style is reminiscent of Eric Carle’s, modernized. I only wish the illustrated pages were in color. Future editions, I suppose.
I hope Peter Brown is hard at work on a sequel!
Peter Brown’s site is well worth a visit with information about his other books and loads of freebies. http://www.peterbrownstudio.com/
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