Saturday, November 29, 2008

Robot Dreams Book Review by ChristineMM

Robot Dreams
Author: Sara Varon
Genre: Graphic Novel, children, wordless
Format: softcover books
ISBN: 9781596431089

Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Summary Statement: Touching Story, Wordless

Book review by ChristineMM

Robot Dreams is a sweet tale told in comic book style. It is a wordless book. The sweet and innocent nature of this book allows it to be enjoyed by very young children yet the message and story can be enjoyed and appreciated by adults.

The story takes place over thirteen month’s time and the plot is very much associated with the changing seasons. It is a story of friendship between a dog (living and acting as a human) who buys a robot kit and assembles his new robot friend. When the robot rusts and stiffens while at the beach, trouble ensues.

I can’t give the story away so I’ll have to stop with the story summary at this point. The ending was surprising and very much not what I thought would happen.

The take away message for me was that friendships are important and the good memories can live on in our hearts even if due to various circumstances, friends become separated and they go off in different directions.

I’m not sure if all young children will get that same message from the book.

My eleven year old son who is a robot-lover and graphic book lover really enjoyed this book.

My younger son, aged eight, read it and enjoyed it.

I read it and loved it. Due to the nature of the story and despite the characters being male, I think girls might like the story itself, if they are graphic novel lovers. The story may be too juvenile for teens unless they are specifically interested in the storytelling form of the graphic novel.

The book also has an educational component if someone wishes to use it in that way. Teachers could use this to show how a story is built and how the trajectory builds up as the book goes on. Since it is wordless it can be consumed in a short time frame making it easy to teach from. Art teachers could use this as an example of the graphic novel format and to help teach student about drawing comics or using the graphic novel format. It could also be used as writing prompt for writing composition. Students could try to write a chapter of the story using the book as the source material. I am planning to use this book in those ways with my homeschooled children.

I am a lover of books and the written word, however the more I read graphic novels of a different type than Superhero-based action stories, the more I am coming to appreciate the art form and the difficulty of communicating a storyline in purely visual format for the wordless graphic novels, and also for those with far less words than ‘text only’ books. It takes a special talent to be able to portray in all visuals, a complete and touching story. Sara Varon has succeeded with her story Robot Dreams.

While the value of traditional books will never fade, I do hope that the graphic novel genre continues to grow with high quality stories artfully told.

How I Came to Read This Book: I found it on the shelf at a local Barnes & Noble and due to its cost I decided to borrow it from the public library. However we love it so much I may buy it and use it in our homeschooling. After I read it I heard Amy of the Creative Mom Podcast, in episode #113, review and recommend it.

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