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Book Review: Robot Dreams

Robot Dreams
by Sara Varon
First Second
ISBN 978-1596431089
Ages 8 and up
In Stores


For me, a book like Robot Dreams is just begging to be read. When our new book order came in last week, there it was in the stacks, quietly making itself known. Call me a sucker for the decidedly doodle-esque cover art, but I was ready to give this one a once-over. I picked it up, I sat back, I opened it up … wait a minute – where are the words?! I then recalled the author’s previous work and it all started to make sense. But, being down with all forms of literacy, the wordless format did not sway me from my mission of digesting this volume in one big gulp. I “read” on.

I’m pretty happy I did. The story begins with Dog purchasing and assembling Robot. The two become fast friends, bonding over videos checked out from the local library (who says DVDs don’t belong?).

It is their fateful summer trip to the beach, however, that sets the story in motion. Unaware of his being made of metal, Robot follows Dog into the surf – with rusty results. Robot seizes up. With no way to carry him, Dog heads home alone. Over the course of the fall, winter, and spring Dog is repeatedly rebuffed in his attempts to retrieve his friend. On the beach Robot has dreams of what will happen to him (and his friendship with Dog) in the meantime. As robot is slowly disassembled for parts by various passersby, the reader is left wondering if the two will ever be reunited.

Dog and Robot do cross paths again, but not in the way you would expect. The, shall we say “circular”, ending may leave some readers unsatisfied. For me however, it was an appropriate way to wrap up this rewarding and surprisingly mature story of friendship.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.