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The Wild Robot
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- Author: Peter Brown
- Illustrator: Peter Brown
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs, Robots, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: April 5, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 11
- Number of pages: 288
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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