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Robot Dreams Paperback – August 7, 2007

43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. 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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From Booklist

*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 unfortunate—a 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

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: First Second; 1st edition (August 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596431083
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596431089
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sara Varon is a printmaker, comic book artist, and illustrator currently living in Brooklyn, NY. She is also an avid runner, recreational boxer, baker, movie watcher, and a compulsive dog petter. Visit her online at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
The wordless graphic novel for children. Adults, quite frankly, haven't a clue how to deal with them. But for those kids intimidated by words, new to the English language, or just fond of visual storytelling, these new forms of literature are nothing less than a godsend. From the picture book-sized, The Boy, the Bear, the Baron, the Bard to Andy Runton's remarkably popular, Owly series, wordless has never been hotter amongst the young `uns. More to the point, graphic novel imprint First Second has never been intimidated by new formats. Its mighty peculiar A.L.I.E.E.E.N., for example, was essentially wordless (not to say wuh-eird weird weird). Though First Second may tend to look to other nations for their stories, they're certainly not afraid of a little homegrown talent on the side. Enter Sara Varon. Best known at the moment for the wordless picture book Chicken And Cat, this Brooklyn resident has produced a full-blown novel of remarkable sweetness. Linear and lovely, broken up with daydreams and fantasies, "Robot Dreams" is a small "simple" story of friendship and letting go. Relationships have never pared down so perfectly.

A dog purchases a robot kit so that he might have a friend to hang out with. The robot, a mellow type, enjoys hanging out with the dog, eating popcorn, watching movies, and going to the library.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Tea4Three on March 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
Though my son thoroughly enjoyed the graphics of this book, he was extremely heartbroken at the end and cried. He felt like the dog should of done more to help his friend, he felt like the dog abandoned his robot friend. And he couldn't believe that he would just leave the robot and go buy a new robot friend, like buying a new friend could replace his old friend. He wanted there to be another book that brought the two of them together again. I too, found myself at a loss at the end of the book. I said there is probably another book where they are together again and I made up a whole new ending and told my son that you never give up on a friend no matter what. If it was a book just about loss, that would of been fine, but the implications that the robot was "abandon" and made a new friend, without ever knowing if his old friend was still around, was a bit disturbing.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Constance777 on March 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
My kids loved Bake Sale, so we picked this one up, too. Our 9-yr old daughter loved it - but our 7-yr old son was really destroyed by the ending - he was crying and yelling uncontrollably - that they "missed each other" and would never see each other again, and that the dog gave up on his friend. He was so upset, and we couldn't "undo" what he'd seen... so, be careful if you have a sensitive type child.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Arthur on February 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
It's supposed to be a cute tale about making peace with moving on. Unfortunately it falls apart upon analysis. Spoilers are necessary to explain.

About the Dog, You don't bring a friend to life (heavy stuff) and then abandon them paralyzed on a beach in a time of need. Also you don't stop trying to save them because of a "no trespassing" sign. It bugged me the dog didn't try harder, I kept wondering why he didn't keep going back. Determination was totally overlooked, imagine if a parent left a child helpless on the beach because they couldn't lift them, not likely. It was obvious the dogs lack of ambition was necessary to facilitate the ending.

About the Robot, he's a good sport, but in the end should have let the dog know he was still alive and well. Humming the music wasn't enough, I'd hate to find out someone close I thought was dead was still alive and didn't tell me. For any of this to make sense, some sort of actual reunion/reconciliation needed to occur.

Visually it's nice, but it's hard to imagine anyone would act so passively in somewhat dire circumstances.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Heiss on January 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
What am I supposed to be learning from this book? If you love somebody, set them free? Or abandon them on the beach and forget them? Or get ready, because rejection hurts a lot?

Sooner or later, someone new comes along... an imperfect reflection of the first and truest friendship... you'll be happy again, but you will always remember the first TRUE friendship with nostalgia... and you'll never give your heart like you did the first time.

If country music had robots and dogs, this would be a song.

Love the illustrations, though.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Em on September 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
An emotional journey of friendship, one that every person can relate to. This simple, wordless story reflects the joy and pain of friendship, but ultimately, how each relationship in our lives shapes us. Friends come and go, but they always remain within us. This book will act as a catalyst for discussion and reflection of friendship and relationships among readers of all ages. It is a rare feat for a book to evoke such emotion. Way to go, Sara Varon! You've created a timeless work of art!
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