Lori Redman's Reviews > Robot Dreams

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon
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Sep 07, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: middleschool, elementary, tear-jerker, graphic-novel
Read in September, 2012

Robot Dreams tells the story of a dog who finds a best friend in his new Robot from a boxed-robot-kit. They share fun times together, culminating in a trip to the beach- where Robot unfortunately decides to join Dog in the water. Because of this, Robot rusts and is left on the beach. Dog tries to rescue him, but the beach closes for the winter. Over the next year, dog tries to fill the void in his life that Robot left- by making friends with others or visiting the old places he and Robot used to go. Robot has no consolation but his dreams- he dreams of flying away, of sleeping on clouds, and of seeing Dog again. He is haunted by the idea that Dog has left him and found a new robot friend. Both Robot and Dog deal with the loss of each other.

This book is incredibly sad- it speaks volumes about friendship and loss, all told through the medium of a children's wordless graphic novel. Friendship is such a tentative, heartbreaking gesture of trust. We put our hope and faith in someone that they might return our affection and not squander it or take it for granted. This book reminds me that people change- even those people we hope won't change at all, and that our friendships are so fragile- as is our way of life. We move on because we must. I like Robot's choice at the end, a lot.

The illustrations are simple and enjoyable... the panels are sparse but neatly done. Dog's shape bothered me a bit- he's an odd-looking dog, after all. But it wasn't enough to deter from the story.

I have to say, having read Sara's "Bake Sale" first, there is no way "Bake Sale" compares to this. Though it IS sad that both books are reflections on the fragility and collapse of friendships. The only reason this book gets 4 stars instead of 5 is that I am reading graphic novels on behalf of my students right now- and I think this book, for elementary aged students, might be too heavy or too vague for children to fully comprehend. Perhaps they will be disappointed in the lack of adventure or action, or be surprised by the serious tone that this book takes. The scene where dog sits on the bench with snowman's outfit is particularly chilling. I appreciate this book as an adult reflecting on friendship and loss- but I hesitate to make it readily available to my students.

I read a review on Robot Dreams on goodreads that really stuck with me: "What a surprise this book turned out to be. It looks like a charming little story for kids about a dog and his robot best friend, told all in pictures without any dialogue. And sure, it works on that level. But there is a real emotional depth, too. I sat and flipped through it with my 2-year old nephew before really reading it and pointed out to him some of the cute pictures. "Look at the robot swimming," I said. "Look at the dog flying a kite." I'm glad we stopped before I got to "look at the tears shed over the impermanence of the fragile bonds we share and the near-impossibility of ever connecting wholly with another soul." It's a pretty amazing and heartbreaking meditation on friendship in the simplest package possible." Well said.
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