The Wild Robot

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
The Wild Robot Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Robot vs. wilderness in poignant survival tale.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 12 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Because the robot observes the animals and tries to learn from them to survive, there's information about animal behavior such as camouflage, although this information's mixed with fiction in which the animals are occasionally anthropomorphized.

Positive Messages

There are ways to survive adversity, and it helps to observe animals who've adapted to the environment. When others are against you, you can change their hearts by being kind and helpful. We can all use our various strengths to help one another.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Roz figures out how to survive. She's observant and studies animal behavior. She's kind and adopts and raises an orphaned gosling. Though the animals on the island are originally afraid of her and consider her a monster, she wins them over by helping them and being kind. Roz takes action to help the animals survive a brutal winter.

Violence & Scariness

Gun violence in several scenes: A farmer shoots and kills a goose character; the recon robots sent to retrieve the main robot have guns and use them in an extended chase scene; and the animals shoot a hole through one of the recon robots, and it's pictured graphically in the art. The gosling adopted by the robot is initially orphaned when the robot falls off a cliff and rocks fall; several animals are also found frozen to death in winter. Dismemberment of robots: Robots break apart when they first crash onto the island; Roz loses a foot and at the end loses all limbs; recon robots get blown apart. Bear attack on robot. Fire in woods.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Wild Robot by Peter Brown (Mr. Tiger Goes Wild) is a middle-grade novel about a shipwrecked robot who learns to survive by observing and befriending the animals native to her new island. Set in an indeterminate future when crates of robots are carted on cargo ships and climate change kicks up violent storms, the story mixes artificial intelligence with wilderness survival. Though Roz is a robot and doesn't have emotions, she's thoughtfully observant and programmed to be helpful and kind. With some possibly disturbing scenes with guns, dismemberment of robots, and death in the wild, the story's also filled with lessons about kindness and pluck. The chapters are short and punchy, and the book is dotted with Brown's appealing illustrations.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bylabmom3 February 28, 2019

Why gun violence?

I was excited to read this as a read aloud to my third grade students. I heard about it on the Global Read Aloud page, so I thought I'd give it a try. I a... Continue reading
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byapcrcom November 2, 2018

An very unusual setting and protagonist make for a great read

Ms 7 Loved this book, and went to the school's book week dressed as Roz - the wild robot. Recommended.
Kid, 8 years old May 20, 2020

Best book but some Violence

I think it was a great book but a little bit of gun violence… Someone tries to shoot animals but overall great book!
Kid, 9 years old April 20, 2020

Really awesome book... And I mean really.

I got this as a gift from my cousin and I could’ thank her enough.

What's the story?

In THE WILD ROBOT, when a cargo ship goes down in a storm, a crate with a robot washes up on an island. Curious otters activate it, and ROZZUM unit 7134 comes to life and introduces herself: "You may call me Roz." Though the island isn't a welcoming habitat for a robot, Roz has been programmed to be curious, so she observes the animals to see how they survive and mimics them. At first, the animals think she's a monster and try to mobilize against her, but Roz wins them over by helping them. She also adopts an orphan gosling and builds a shelter to save her animal friends from a cruel winter. Will she be reclaimed by reconnaissance robots looking for her? 

Is it any good?

"Shipwrecked robot" is the clever twist in this wilderness-survival tale that delivers fun information about animal behavior along with lessons about friendship and a heart-tugging emotional punch. When Roz the robot has to learn to survive on an island, she observes the animals who live there and mimics their behavior. For the most part, the animals are characterized naturally, not anthropomorphized. But Brown takes some liberties -- for instance, the animals observe a "Dawn Truce" so they can meet each day as a community without threat of predators stalking prey. Roz encounters numerous obstacles -- the physical terrain, violent storms, the initial hostility of the animals, the loss of a foot, a very harsh winter -- but she's resourceful and overcomes all with grace. And because she's described as female, she can serve as a plucky role model.

The pace of the story is sometimes quiet and meditative, but the chapters are short and punchy, and Brown employs direct address -- "Now, reader, what I haven't mentioned is … " -- that draws kids in and lends the book a classic feel. The lesson that kindness and community trump fear and competition shines through.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about survival. How does Roz survive? List all the ways you can think of.

  • What's real science in the story and what's not? What information about animal behavior is accurate, and what's fiction? Why do you think the author mixes them up?

  • What do you think of the violence in The Wild Robot? Is it disturbing to see animals shot and robots dismembered? Do you think it's important in a survival story to show the dangers of the wild? 

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