From School Library Journal
Grade 3 Up—Dog wants a friend. Dog builds a robot. The two go to the library to get movies, and they make popcorn. They go to the beach, and the dog encourages the robot to play with him in the water. Robot is unable to move afterward because he has rusted stiff, and the dog finally leaves him there on his blanket on the sand. Seasons pass, and both Robot and Dog reflect on what happened, and both are changed because of this experience. The canine goes through a series of friendships that are unfulfilling in different ways: a duck goes south for the winter, a snowman melts, and the anteaters expect him to share their lunches. Meanwhile, the robot is lying on the beach, immobile but awake. He dreams of being rescued, of making new friends, of reuniting with Dog, of never having entered the water in the first place. While he dreams, his body is covered by sand and snow, is used for parts by scavengers, and even serves as a nesting place for a bird. This almost wordless (and dialogue-free) graphic novel is by turns funny and poignant. The cartoon artwork is clear and easy to understand. Varon uses a muted palette of earth tones with great skill. This book is like those board games that can be appreciated by anyone from 8 to 80. It is a quick read, but it will stay with readers long after they put it down.—Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library
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*Starred Review* In this nearly wordless graphic novel, Dog's desire for a companion is satisfied the day Robot arrives by mail. Dog assembles Robot, and their adventure begins. After visiting the library, watching movies, and eating popcorn, the companions end up at the dog beach. Robot is hesitant to frolic in the waves at first, but after a short pause, he dives right in. The result is unfortunatea rusty, immobile Robot. Unsure of what to do for his friend, remorseful Dog abandons Robot on the sand to dream of what might have been (depicted first in brown tonal artwork as opposed to the color used to designate actions in real time) had things turned out differently. While Robot is used and abused, and eventually disposed of in a scrap yard, Dog agonizes over his companion, then begins searching for a new one with mixed, sometimes comic results. Varon's drawing style is uncomplicated, and her colors are clean and refreshing. Although her story line seems equally simple, it is invested with true emotion. Her masterful depiction of Dog's struggles with guilt and Robot's dreams of freedom effectively pulls readers into this journey of friendship, loss, self-discovery, and moving forward. Use this as Exhibit A to prove that graphic novels can pack an emotional punch equal to some of the best youth fiction. King, Kevin