Can a robot survive in the wilderness?
This absolutely beautiful little novel is utterly captivating. In fact, from the plot to the illustrations, it is perfection: a joy to read and a joy to share. Written in short, very readable chapters, Wild Robot is a real treat for the imagination. The world Peter Brown has woven with his words and illustrations is filled with wonder, warmth and delicate humour.
Wild Robot tells the story of Roz who, following a disaster at sea, is left marooned on a remote and wild island. Thus begins Roz’s struggle for survival, to learn about the landscape that will become her home and to try to make the best of what is a rather tricky situation! This is made all the more challenging by the fact that Roz is a robot! She woke in her crate (thanks to a bustle of rather curious and playful otters). She knows nothing of the ship wreck, of being washed up on the island, or anything at all before the moment she awoke. For Roz, her life began when the paw of one of those nosy little otters slapped an important little button on the back of her head – click! Roz’s eyes opened and her adventures began…
Once she had booted up and had fully charged under the warmth of the sun, Roz was able to move about, communicate and learn. She could complete tasks and with each completed task she would learn. As a result, Roz would become a better robot. And that was all Roz wanted: to be the best robot she could be. But being a robot lost in the wilderness was not at all easy.
The reader follows Roz as she explores her island home. Many bumps, dents and scratches later, she realises becoming a better robot is not going to be an easy task; after all, robots are not designed for life in the wild! She decides she must blend in more with her island home so she can watch the other island’s inhabitants, learning how they flourish and survive the difficult conditions of this harsh environment. After a genius spot of camouflaging, Roz settles down to watch and to learn.
The little world that exists on the island is absolutely delightful. The animals all have their own special skills (and charming personalities) that they share with Roz as she is gradually accepted into their community and into their lives: engineering, horticulture, climate. In turn, her computer brain learns and decodes many things too like how to speak the different animal languages and how to make fire. Roz finds that, in turn, she has much to offer in helping the animals learn new skills that will make survival easier for them. Thus, the line between natural instinct and learned behaviour become a little blurred. But it is these relationships that add such magic to the story. Roz is a robot. She can not feel emotion. But as the story progresses and she becomes more central to the island community, making friends and even family, she begins to feel something: perhaps it is a sense of responsibility, maybe there is a zest for life, or even something that looks suspiciously like love.
There are many themes within the story that inspire further discussion and research. The most obvious is the idea of the natural world versus the modern world. Can nature and technology exist side by side, harmoniously? There is much to investigate about the animals, their different behaviours and natural instincts. In addition, the impact of human activity on the natural world is introduced in a thoughtful way, to inspire debate.
A story that celebrates friendship, individuality and the power of learning, Wild Robot is a very special book that will enthuse children about the environment and to inspire creativity. Beautiful on the inside as well as the outside, this little treasure packs a real punch and the story and its characters will stay with you long after reading.
The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
Little Brown and Company ISBN: 978-0316381994