Getting children to sit down and read a book in today’s society is sometimes akin to pulling teeth, with a toothpick. Sometimes a book will come along that can grab the attention of children and adults alike. The Wild Robot by Peter Brown is one of those books.
Peter Brown is an NYTimes bestselling author. He is the author and the illustrator of the book here. That is very important to mention. It is a break from the normal Venn diagram of the author/illustrator relationship when producing children’s books. Normally you need an author that is great with words and has an extensive vocabulary. This is important because you are targeting a book to some kids that are just learning how to read or do not even read yet.
The illustrator is responsible for those that have not learned to read yet as much as the author if not more. He is forced to take nothing but words and create the world out of thin air. Painting a picture of the words the author has created so that you the reader can look at the page and know what the author is meaning.
Peter Brown has done both of these flawlessly. Creating a world that is able to jump right off of the page and into the minds and hearts of the readers.
The Wild Robot is a narrative driven story. I love the concept because it blends seamlessly from scene to scene without any bumps for the children to understand. With a narrator that knows all in the book, the children get the same point of view throughout the story, unlike books that take the perspective of multiple characters at once.
Roz is the main character of the book. She is a robot that is shipwrecked on an island. Normally writers can easily fall into a trap when writing about a robot. Think Data from star trek. It is easy to fall into the “what it means to be human” trap when you are writing this type of story. Peter Brown has faced this challenge and owns it. The story embraces Roz’s lack of emotion and yet jerks at the heartstrings of its readers.
Brown created a powerful twist on the typical wilderness survival genre and made it in a manner that every kid enjoys it. Then just when you think you have the story figured out it goes even deeper. Complicating the no emotion main character with her want and yearning for connections and friendship. That emotional pull plays well in keeping you hooked into reading more.
While all of these words are going on and the story itself can stand on its own, the pictures strategically placed bring the overall book to the next level. The dark coloring bringing the emotion and lack thereof out of the page and into the readers’ world. I do not think a better marriage of print to picture has ever taken place in a children’s book.
A whole world of fantasy has been created while still holding your mind and heart in the real world. Friendship, trails, and problems all keep you firmly grounded in the morbid struggle that is our reality while Roz herself lifts you up and into the fantasy world that Brown has created here.
The Wild Robot is listed for ages 8 and up but, this is just not true. I think a person of any age has something that they can learn from the book. Other reviews from grown adults have read this and learned important lessons from it. I think this is a perfect book for group reading. Families, schools, or friends have a lot to discuss this book and the themes that Brown has placed in it. This is definitely a book that I would ignore the age ranges and let the children read. If they can’t read I think this is still a great choice to read to them.
Open up their minds and hearts to the world that Brown has expertly created.
Here is the basic information. You decide the outcome.