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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown. Little Brown and Company, Hachette. 2016. $20.49 ages 8 and up

"... I do want him to survive," said the robot. "But I do not know how to act like a mother. "Oh, it's nothing, you just provide the gosling with food and water and shelter, make him feel loved but don't pamper him too much, keep him away from danger, and make sure he learns to walk and talk and swim and fly and get along with others and look after himself. And that's really all there is to motherhood!"

Take an island replete with all that is needed by its many animal inhabitants, and put a little wrinkle into their content and happy lives ... perhaps not such a little wrinkle! How about we make it a robot, a fairly large robot appropriately named Roz (after all,  she is a part of a series named ROZZUM, and she is unit 7134). There you have the makings for a unique and wonderful middle grade novel.

If there is any luck involved it is that Roz is the only computer of the 500 that were washed ashore on a rocky island coast to be intact. Frolicking sea otters are curious and accidentally activate her. Poor Roz! She has no idea where she is, or what she is meant to do. She does have an ability to think, and to adapt to her environment. So, she begins doing just that. The animals of the island are terribly frightened by what they do not know ... and back off. The first casualties of her lumbering gait and insecurity in her new surroundings are a nest of geese. The one egg that has not yet hatched suddenly does and chooses Roz as his caregiver. It is through her relationship with Brightbill that Roz learns so much.

Her ability to help, and to look for answers to questions she has, stands her in good stead with the island animals. She looks to them for guidance as she tries to do her best for the young gosling, dependent on her for much teaching. Caring for the gosling, seeking help from the island community and trying to do what she is meant to do - help - allows a slow and warm relationship to develop. When that way of life is threatened, the entire group works together for the greater good. 

I love the way that Peter Brown builds a strong and united community without having any of the animals lose their identity or their natural instincts. He gives voice to each in unique ways, validating the part they play in their island home. Readers will definitely grow to love Roz ... of that, there is no doubt.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting concept. I've added this to my ever-growing TBR list!