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Little Robot Hardcover – September 1, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—Once again Hatke delivers a delightful graphic novel with a positive female role-model, fun non-humans, and a message of friendship. When a brown-skinned cherubic girl chances upon a robot that looks like a trash can, she finds a friend worth protecting. Each day they explore the junkyard and the surrounding forest, with the little girl acting as a guide to new sights and concepts. Both love playing together, but when the robot wants to leave, things go downhill. It is up to this resourceful girl to save him from the bad bots of the factory. With her trusty wrench in hand, she repairs parts, builds traps, and fixes hearts. Like the characters in the movie Wall-E, these robots have a limited range of facial expressions, so they "speak" and emote in sound effects. Changes in font size, punctuation, and position play just as large a role in comprehension as body language and composition. It's Hatke's skill in communicating the narrative and emotional complexities through visual cues that makes this such a strong offering. Though the girl and her bot start their journeys separately and in silence, by the end, music and friends surround them. Young readers, and those new to graphica, will find the easy-to-follow illustrations, large borderless panels, and steady pace welcoming. VERDICT A pleasantly colorful adventure of discovery and friendship. Highly recommended.—Rachel Forbes, Oakville Public Library, Ontario, Canada
A Kirkus Best Middle Grade Book of 2015
A Texas Little Mavericks Title
"A tale of friendship and the joys of tinkering." ―The New York Times
"The absolute best thing ever." ―io9
"Girls meets robot. Robot meets girl. Girl and robot become unlikely best friends . . . and take on the world." ―Entertainment Weekly
“Ben is awesome, and so are his books!” ―Kazu Kibuishi, author of the Amulet series
“Tonight’s bedtime story.” ―Rainbow Rowell, author of Fangirl
“Girl power at its best. A sure winner!” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“A pleasantly colorful adventure of discovery and friendship. Highly recommended.” ―School Library Journal, starred review
“Subtly inventive in both vision and execution, this one begs to be read again and again.” ―Booklist, starred review
“Well-plotted and -paced, this engaging story of loneliness, bravery, and friendship builds to a satisfying and sweet conclusion.” ―The Horn Book
"Hatke’s got a knack for early elementary graphic novels, and the unnamed protagonist here is just as endearing, memorable, and clever as Zita (from Zita the Spacegirl)." ―The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
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Top Customer Reviews
Since they are big fans of Hatke's Zita series (see Zita the Spacegirl (Zita the Spacegirl Series)), the kids are excited to read all of his graphic novels.
As a mom, I love that the pictures and stories draw the kids into books and inspire them to read.
I asked the children what they thought of the book:
"I really liked it. The setting (bridge and river and mountains) reminded me of my town. There's not many words, but I really enjoyed it." -- boy, 12
"I really like it too, even though it's probably more for younger kids. The pictures were fun." -- girl, 11
"A girl finds a robot but he wants to play with other robots like him. So he leaves her...I like the robot that fixes stuff. He fixes up all the other robos. I think it's silly... I like silly." -- boy, 8
"The bridge looks like Virginia's bridge." -- boy, 5
"Yeah, I like it. I like everything. It's about a girl and a robot." -- boy, 4
But I cant say for certain what Ben Hatke intended.
The best way I can describe it is that it is "impacting" and it is really sturdy. This is the kind of book you will want to read again and again to try and pick up on all of the subtle aspects too the story.
When I read it I was honestly quite shocked by the slightly dark edge it had, but it reminded me a lot about how childhood is often one of the saddest times of our lives, and how sometimes people will willingly put themselves in an abusive situation just to feel like they belong.
And the book shows how we can hurt people we love through a lack of understanding. The book causes a lot of thinking, and that is one of the best things that any work of science fiction can do.
Pros: The beautiful artwork tells most of the story (there are no words until page 27 and they are sparse after that). Young children will enjoy making up their own tale, with just a little reading thrown in. The smart, independent girl and funny, caring robot make an endearing pair.
Cons: I didn’t really understand why the girl and the robot left the party at the end. She seemed pretty unhappy at the possibility of contact with other humans.