Author: Sara Varon
Illustrator: Sara Varnon
Softcover: 206 pages
Publisher: :01 First Second
Publish Date: September 2007
Richly endearing and full of surprises, Robot Dreams follows an ill-fated friendship between a dog and robot. After a Labor Day jaunt to the beach leaves Robot rusty and immobilized in the sand, Dog, unsure what to do, abandons him. As the seasons pass, Dog tries to replace his friend, making and losing a series of new ones, from a melting snowman to epicurean anteaters. Meanwhile, Robot passes his time daydreaming, escaping to better places … Through interwoven journeys, the two characters long to recover from their day at the beach.
Although its adorable characters and playful charm will win over young readers, Robot Dreams speaks universally to the fragile nature of friendship, loss, and redemption.
-taken from the front flap of Robot Dreamsby Sara Varon
Robot Dreams by Sara Varon is a fun and touching graphic novel written completely without words (except for the “buzz”es, “bump”s and “scratch”es written into the panels).
The story begins with Dog receiving a package in the mail containing the “build your own robot” kit he’d ordered. Once put together, Robot and Dog go everywhere together, watch videos together, and then the duo take a trip to the beach where Robot goes for a swim.
Unfortunately, as you may guess, sea water and moving metal parts do not mix, and Robot is rusted stiff. Dog doesn’t know what to do to help his friend, and ends up leaving Robot alone on the beach.
The two take diverging courses for the next few months: Dog, lonely and friendless, tries to fill the void left in his life by Robot’s absence, and Robot is left, immobile, on the beach to dream of other places and reuniting with Dog. However, the friends Dog finds are never quite the right fit, either melting or flying south for the winter, or sharing a meal of live ants that later makes Dog sick. Meanwhile, Robot finds the people who come across him on the beach aren’t as considerate and nice as Dog. When the weather is warm again, Dog goes to beach as soon as it opens to find Robot, but is only able to locate his leg. Robot has been removed by a junk man and sold as scrap metal to a junkyard.
While the pictures are sweet and adorable, the story it tells carries the emotions of friendships, both shared and lost, and how we grieved… and eventually recover and move on… when these connections come to an end. Sometimes they end because of a move, sometimes by death, and other times because of a disagreement. But we always live through it, and find a way to manage after the loss.
Because this book is completely without text, it’s a great story for younger readers who may struggle with reading. Also, I found it to be received with joy by Gwen, whose learning disability makes reading dificult for her. She took delight in “writing” her own story to go with the pictures.
AND, because of the nature of truth, the story is endearing and emotionally palpable for adults, as well. The book is shelved in the young adult section of my library, and I think that’s a good fit.
For its ability to convey a story without the use of words, while never losing any of the truth and emotions, I give Robot Dreams by Sara Narnon four out of five stars. The artwork is cleverly cute and would be a great book for a family of all ages to share.
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