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 Escapes is Peter Brown's sequel to his best-selling kids' novel The Wild Robot, in which a shipwrecked robot learned to talk to animals and felt the stirrings of emotion. Brown was originally known as an author-illustrator of picture books such as Mr. Tiger Goes Wild and Caldecott Honor Book Creepy Carrots!, so the novels include illustration. Though the main character, Roz, is programmed to be nonviolent, the dramatic elements include a pack of threatening wolves, RECO robots sent to chase and reclaim Roz when she goes rogue, a near drowning, Roz getting shot in the leg with a gun, and her dismemberment. The story puts forth clear messages about being oneself, helping others, bravery, and love of home and family.
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What's the story?
THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES picks up the threads left dangling at the end of the first book, when Roz was taken by RECO robots in an airship sent to retrieve her from her wild island home. In this book, a reconditioned Roz is delivered to Hilltop Farm, where she works for the Shareef family, managing their dairy business. Roz likes the cows and family, but knows that if anyone discovers that she's different, they'll destroy her. She also misses her adopted son, the goose Brightbill, so when Brightbill and his flock show up, the Shareef children help Roz plan her escape. She and Brightbill embark on a long, often harrowing journey over hill and dale, across water, and through a futuristic city bustling with service robots, as they're helped by animal friends they make along the way.
Is it any good?
Roz the robot has an intriguing blend of mechanical, just-the-facts computer brain, with feelings that are tenderly emotional, and the measured tone of this sensitive story mirrors that mix. Readers are lucky that Peter Brown, the author of The Wild Robot Escapes, has worked extensively as an illustrator, and the black-and-white illustrations he sprinkles throughout help provide an immersive experience. Brown sometimes addresses the reader directly ("Reader, can you guess…?"), drawing readers in with his conversational tone, and adding to the classic feel. Short chapters, sometimes only one page, ensure that the book is friendly to young readers.
Brown inflects the story with soft humor -- when Roz arrives at the dairy farm, she slips on a cow patty -- and also with frequent philosophical asides, as Roz muses on how she's different, and whether or not that makes her defective. When Roz leaves the farm, embarking on her long journey, there are danger and chase scenes, but also friendly animals who come to Roz's aid, as they might in a fairy tale. The story will prompt readers to think about larger issues of mechanization, the future, human ties and values, and nonviolence.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Roz is different from other robots in The Wild Robot Escapes. How are the other robots programmed to behave? Do you think she's defective because she learned to talk to animals in order to adapt to her wild island home? Why are humans afraid of Roz?
Did you notice that sometimes the author talks to you, the reader, directly? Why do you think he chose to do that? Have you read other books where the author does that?
Since this is the second book about Roz, do you think there'll be a third? Or do you think the author intends this to be the last book? Did he tie up the story in a way that makes it feel like a satisfying ending?
- Author: Peter Brown
- Illustrator: Peter Brown
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Robots, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: March 13, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 11
- Number of pages: 288
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: April 20, 2020
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