Robot Dreams

March 11, 2009

robotdreamsI first heard about this 2007 graphic novel by Sara Varon at ALA in Anaheim last summer.  The cover looks so friendly, and I love bright crisp illustrations, so I decided to give it a try.  Here’s the plot:  Dog orders and builds Robot.  They soon decide to take a trip to the beach, where Robot discovers he cannot move after playing in the water with Dog.  Dog leaves Robot on the beach.  Months pass, and they both contemplate what happened and experience separate things.

The plot of Robot Dreams seems like it would be sad and dramatic because of the ill-fated friendship, and occasionally it was, but for the most part, it mostly came across humorous and disturbing.  There were several unsettling moments beginning with Dog abandoning Robot at the beach.  I expected the book to be happy-go-lucky, but it certainly wasn’t.  Maybe if you go into it knowing that, you’ll be able to appreciate the story for what it was.

I did enjoy the illustrations, and I would recommend it as long as you know what to expect.  I know the book is very popular, and I’m interested to hear if anyone else agrees with me.

The Arrival

March 5, 2008

Of the 25 children’s books I read for Resources for Children this week, The Arrival by Shaun Tan was my favorite. As soon as I figure out where Barnes and Noble shelves it, I’ll own a copy. The Arrival is a wordless graphic novel; the story of a father and husband traveling to a foreign place to make a better life for his family is told through beautiful sepia pencil drawings. Tan alternates between large drawings and series of smaller “film strip”-like images to capture the feeling of alienation, confusion, and longing.

Although The Arrival is essentially a picture book, the concept and subtle detail of the drawings may be best for slightly older ages. Since its publication in 2007, it has already received numerous honors, including New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2007, Horn Book Fanfare Book of 2007, and ALA’s Notable Children’s Book of 2008.

Rating (out of 5): 5+