Little Robot

illus. by Ben Hatke. 144p. First Second. Sept. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781626720800.
RedReviewStarGr 2–4—Once again Hatke delivers a delightful graphic novel with a positive female role-model, fun non-humans, and a message of friendship. When a brown-skinned cherubic girl chances upon a robot that looks like a trash can, she finds a friend worth protecting. Each day they explore the junkyard and the surrounding forest, with the little girl acting as a guide to new sights and concepts. Both love playing together, but when the robot wants to leave, things go downhill. It is up to this resourceful girl to save him from the bad bots of the factory. With her trusty wrench in hand, she repairs parts, builds traps, and fixes hearts. Like the characters in the movie Wall-E, these robots have a limited range of facial expressions, so they "speak" and emote in sound effects. Changes in font size, punctuation, and position play just as large a role in comprehension as body language and composition. It's Hatke's skill in communicating the narrative and emotional complexities through visual cues that makes this such a strong offering. Though the girl and her bot start their journeys separately and in silence, by the end, music and friends surround them. Young readers, and those new to graphica, will find the easy-to-follow illustrations, large borderless panels, and steady pace welcoming.
VERDICT A pleasantly colorful adventure of discovery and friendship. Highly recommended.

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