Your Pal Fred

Viking. May 2022. 272p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9780593206324; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780593206331.
Gr 2-5–What does the world need most when resources are thin and tensions are high? Well, a pal! After awakening in a post-apocalyptic desert, Fred—a robot made for children—immediately sets out to fix fractured relationships using both empathy and logic. His mediation between brothers Plug and Pug proves super effective, but with two warlords who are causing widespread friction, the task isn’t quite as simple. Good deeds go a long way, though, and by the end, help comes from all corners. Just like travel companion Wormy, older readers will likely see Fred’s naive plan as overly optimistic or ridiculous, but those cynical thoughts do not deter the robot; they just make him thoughtful. Even with all the ragged clothes and rust-bucket architecture, the buoyant protagonist, goofy character designs, and slapstick comedy offset the seriousness behind the idea of the Wrecked World. This graphic novel may give an overly simplified version of conflict resolution, but it does demonstrate the techniques and mindset needed. Furthermore, it opens up a discussion about principles and friendship. The author even includes a guide to making friends in the back matter.
VERDICT A graphic novel with heart about mediation and good relations that will appeal to those who enjoy kooky characters.

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