The Wild Robot by Peter Brown | SLJ Review

redstarBrown, Peter. The Wild Robot. illus. by Peter Brown. 288p. Little, Brown. Apr. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316381994; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316382014.The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

Gr 3-5 –The crate containing ROZZUM unit 7134 wasn’t meant to be shipwrecked on an island. Roz is baffled by the wildness of the environment, but her robot brain is programmed to learn and master tasks. She camouflages herself as clumps of seaweed, meadow flowers, and fallen logs to quietly observe and learn from the flora and fauna. Scared of the unknown, the animals initially think she’s a monster and run in terror. But Roz rescues a goose egg and reaches out to the animal community for help. Roz and the animals fall into a happy routine, but that bliss is broken by environmental and technological threats to the island. Set in the not-so-distant future, this thoughtful story unfolds slowly, matching Roz’s pace as she observes and integrates into island life. The environmental and technological dangers introduced halfway through are impactful; they threaten the tightly knit community so carefully cultivated by Roz and the animals. The character development focuses on Roz and her adopted son, Brightbill. The supporting characters, while less fleshed out, are compelling. Short chapters and read-aloud-worthy third-person narration pair beautifully with Brown’s grayscale illustrations. Grounded in striking, eye-catching compositions, his artwork combines geometric shapes and organic forms and textures, providing context and building atmosphere. The open ending leaves readers bereft for Roz and her beloved island, though it is sure to spark discussions about environmental impact and responsibility. VERDICT This strong debut middle grade novel by the acclaimed picture book author/illustrator is a first purchase for most middle grade collections.–Amy Seto Forrester, Denver Public Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2016 issue.

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