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Review of The Wild Robot

brown_wild robotThe Wild Robot
by Peter Brown; illus. by the author
Intermediate    Little, Brown    279 pp.
4/16    978-0-316-38199-4    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-316-38201-4    $9.99

When five shipping crates from a doomed ship crash ashore on a deserted island, only one of them — 
containing our robot protagonist — is lucky enough to survive undamaged. ROZZUM unit 7134 quickly switches herself on, announces that “you may call me Roz,” and begins this unlikeliest of Robinsonades. Luckily, Roz has been designed to teach herself and thus gradually acclimates herself to life in the wild among the island’s creatures, who themselves must adjust to her. While Brown is honest about the harshness of wilderness life (and informative about the nature and challenges of the island’s ecosystem), most of the crises in the book are relatively low-key and managed within a few chapters — all very short and often ending with cliffhangers, making the book a natural for classroom reading-aloud. The omniscient direct-address prose is simple and declarative, but plenty of emotion is evoked by the characters, even Roz, who claims not to even have emotions, but whose mothering of an orphaned goose tells us different. In his first novel, picture-book creator Brown (Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, rev. 11/13) includes plenty of spot art whose grayscale geometric stylization of the natural world lends both mystery and sophistication to the book’s look. A closing assault on the island by robots sent to retrieve Roz is a bit much, but it provides an open ending, or perhaps a hint that a sequel may be in the works. Either way, Roz is not easy to forget.

From the May/June 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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