Review of The Adventures of Robo-Kid

The Adventures of Robo-Kid The Adventures of Robo-Kid
by Diane deGroat; illus. by the author
Primary    Porter/Holiday    32 pp.    g
6/22    978-0-8234-4976-7    $18.99

DeGroat gently subverts conventional storytelling and notions of heroism throughout this playful work of picture-book metafiction. The action begins on the title page when young Henry plops down next to his dog to read his copy of The Adventures of Robo-Kid. The comic’s intentionally clichéd conflict is quickly resolved by its robotic ­protagonist. A series of double-page spreads then cleverly depicts two parallel story lines. Henry in the real world nervously prepares for a swim lesson. In the comic-book world, Robo-Kid, or Roby, drops the persona and heads home for lunch. Roby’s discontent with the ­predictable superhero life leads the robot to ­literally escape the comic book, ­breaking the fourth wall (and panel border) between the superheroic and real worlds. Although pint-sized and powerless in Henry’s world, Roby agrees to help the hesitant boy with his swim lesson. But it’s Henry who becomes the story’s unlikely hero after Roby tumbles into the pool’s deep end and Henry jumps in to rescue his new friend. Clear visual storytelling will help readers follow the narrative, thanks particularly to the largely ­horizontal panel layout and distinct illustration styles between the two settings. Subtle visual details, such as similarities between Roby’s and Henry’s rooms and families, strengthen the connection between the two protagonists and will reward ­multiple readings.

From the July/August 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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