For the love of a robot

A friend recommended the book “The Wild Robot” and I’m so very glad she did. My 7-year-old and I absolutely loved it as well as the second book, “The Wild Robot Escapes.” We checked both books out from our local library.

Beautifully written and illustrated by Peter Brown, the books are about Roz, a robot who seems to learn to feel, love and truly live on an island inhabited only by animals. My daughter was quick to notice anytime the author neglected to say the robot felt “something like” an emotion, excitedly pointing out that Roz was becoming … what? Human? Less robotic? “Real?”

The books spurred interesting philosophical discussions about robots. Such as, what is right or wrong about how humans treat them? Is it slavery to expect a robot to work at a job without rest or concern for their wellbeing? Are robots capable of emotions? Should they be allowed to choose?

The ending section of the first book got fairly intense so I gave my daughter a heads up that Roz was going to have to leave her animal family and friends on the island. We talked about how that made her feel. We also looked up about the second book, reading a summary and even reviews. She found it especially helpful that the second book had the word “escapes” in the title. With that reassurance that Roz would make it home again someday, we continued reading.

The second book was just as interesting and exciting as the first. New characters grew to love and trust Roz, creating just the right amount of tension. Would Roz choose to continue in her new life or return to the island? In the end, Roz’s decision felt just exactly perfect.

Even as an adult, I loved nearly everything about these books regardless of the fact that it’s considered a middle-grade novel for children ages 8 to 12. I’m recommending these books to adults without hesitation, even if they don’t intend to read them to a child to justify it. I may read them again myself, just for the joy of it. I loved the illustrations, the characters and the writing.

My one small critique is that the chapters were weirdly short. I realize that’s probably done intentionally for a younger audience but for my daughter and me, it was disruptive. I stopped reading chapter headings because we tend to read so many pages in one sitting.

I give these books a full 10 out of 10 rating for adults and children.