New York Times Bestselling Author Peter Brown ventures into wild territory with the chapter book, and he emerges unscathed. The Wild Robot is a wonderful tale for children with a great moral. We cannot survive without the earth, and in turn, the earth cannot survive if we do not take care of it.
One hurricane. Four crates. Only one washes safely ashore an island. Inside? A robot named Roz. Roz is solar powered and full of “Survival Instincts.” Her shiny exterior is soon marked by scrapes and mud as she traverses over the wild landscape of the island. She cannot understand the language that the animals speak. She discovers ways to camouflage herself so that the animals do not run away in fear of the “monster” on the island.
She began by smearing handfuls of thick mud over her entire body. Then she grabbed clumps of ferns and grasses and sank their roots into her new coat of mud. She placed colorful flowers around her face to disguise her flowing eyes, and any bare patches were covered with pebbles and strips of moss…The camouflaged robot now looked like a great tuft of plants walking through the twilight. She padded to the center of a forest meadow, nestled herself into a hillock, and became part of the landscape.
This disguise offers her the ability to observe the animals and their behavior, and after several weeks of disguising herself as a clump of seaweed or a stone in the forest, she can understand the language of animals. Only once she becomes “one with nature” can she communicate with the animals and speak to them in their own language. After Roz causes a rockslide that leaves a family of geese dead, she rescues the last, small egg. She makes it her mission to ensure that the egg and the gosling inside, survive.
“Mama! Mama!” The gosling thinks Roz is his mother. Roz knows nothing about being a gosling mother, but with help from the other animals, Roz builds a home for herself and Brightbill, the baby goose. Loudwing, the know-it-all goose helps Brightbill swim. Mr. Beaver and his family help build a large robot-sized home out of birch trees, known as the “Nest”. Tawny the deer shows Roz how to garden and grow berries. Chitchat the squirrel is Brightbill’s first friend. These island creatures show that we cannot exist in this world without taking care of the earth, and helping each other. Roz learns that although she has perhaps “higher thinking,” it is the animals, and her adopted son, Brightbill, who teach her what it means to be a part of the wilderness, how important it is to take care of the one earth we are given.
This review originally appeared in The Clarion Ledger.
Signed copies of The Wild Robot can be purchased here.