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The Robot and the Bluebird Hardcover – October 28, 2008
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From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 3—"There once was a Robot with a broken heart," begins this metaphorical story that's likely to appeal more to adults than to children. The other robots cannot fix him, so he ends up on the junk heap. A tired, shivering Bluebird (of happiness, perhaps?) comes along, prompting the Robot to shelter her and carry her South, until he breaks down. Respecting the Robot's dying request, the Bluebird makes a nest in his heart, "And the Robot stands there still…home every year to singing birds." Lucas's complex, fantastical illustrations are full of little details that will attract readers' attention. The Robot's home and junk heap are satisfyingly mechanical and futuristic-looking, and the passage of time is effectively portrayed through a series of four panels of the Robot in day, night, rain, and snow. The layout sustains interest through variety, including insets, full-bleed spreads, and the varying use of panels. Lucas uses color effectively to reflect the protagonist's emotions, with black and whites giving way to color washes after the bird's arrival. The economical text reads smoothly. Unfortunately, the message is heavy-handed and unlikely to speak to children. The lovely illustrations notwithstanding, most libraries can pass.—Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT
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When Robot’s heart is broken and cannot be fixed, he is sent to the scrap heap with other junked machines. He tries talking to the machines, but they don’t answer him. The haunting line “My heart was broken, you know” highlights the difference between a damaged part and an emotional hurt. He feels like rubbish until a bluebird lands on him, and he offers her refuge. Given a new lease on life by his singing friend, he further aids her by transporting her to a warm place in the sun, but after the long journey, Robot’s strength is spent. In the end, not only does Bluebird make a home for herself in Robot’s heart but other birds perch on his outstretched arms as well. Colorful, folk-art birds on the endpapers draw readers in to this fairy-tale-like story. Whimsical illustrations, chock-full of interesting angular images and junkyard scenes, counter the almost-too-sweet nature of the story. The clear message of the joys and sacrifices of enduring friendship is reminiscent of Sara Varon’s Robot Dreams (2007). Grades K-3. --Patricia Austin
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Of the hundreds of childrens' books I have read to them, this is MY favorite.
The dichotomy between the perception of a hard, mechanical, metallic robot and a delicate, fragile little bluebird take on a special meaning. The robot's heart has stopped and he is thrown to the junk pile, when along comes the little bluebird, trying to make it's way south during the winter. The bird will die in the cold and the robot offers his heart space for the delicate little bird and the book says,
"my heart used to say tick-tock, but now my heart is singing". I love that! In my own personal journey, I believe that we have lost that ability to allow our hearts to sing or to find that which will help us on that journey.
If you believe in hope in times of despair and you have been on your own spiritual journey, this book will resonate within you.
A lovely story and I look forward to sharing this with many, many more people.
Sure, it's perhaps not the most exciting children's book but the sweet story and quirky illustrations make up for that - great read before bedtime.