Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Review: Robot Dreams

Every once and a while, a book crosses your path that you can't help but reading twice in a row. And, that's a strange phenomenon when said book has no words at all. Are you reading? And, are you re-reading? When the book in question is as lovely and thought-provoking as Sara Varon's Robot Dreams, the answers to these questions must be 'yes' and 'yes again.'

Robot Dreams begins in August as Dog waits for the postman. Finally, the mail arrives with a build-your-own robot kit and Dog sets to work. Dog and Robot become fast friends and eventually travel by bus to the beach. There Robot and Dog play, sit in the sun, and swim in the water. Dog, unfortunately, doesn't know that robots shouldn't swim. When Robot rusts and locks up, Dog abandons his friend immobilized on the sand. Dog researches robot repair, but by the time he returns to the beach, it has closed for the summer.

Robot Dreams follows Dog throughout the year as he misses his friend the robot and is wracked with guilt. We follow Robot too, as he dreams and becomes covered in snow. Robot's dreams are joyful--he flies with the birds, sits by the ocean, and walks hand and hand with a flower in spring. Dog is not as lucky. No one is as good a friend as robot was.

When next July comes around, both Dog and Robot's prospects improve. I won't spoil the ending, but I will tell you that a wonderfully scrappy raccoon is involved.

Robot Dreams is a novel a child as young as seven or eight may enjoy, though it will be most appreciated by readers unlucky enough to be in Middle School. Varon's treatment of friendship--and its painful loss--is universal. Anyone who has lost a friend--whether by carelessness, a move, or simply because that friend has walked away--will appreciate this book. If a wordless graphic novel can be lyrical, Robot Dreams is just that--lyrical. Share this one with readers ages eight and up.

Other blog reviews:

A Fuse #8 Production
Dawn of the Read
Shelf Elf
Kelly Fineman