Title: The Wild Robot
Author: Peter Brown
Illustrator: Peter Brown
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 5th, 2016
Genre/Format: Science Fiction/Novel
GoodReads Summary: When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings? Roz's only hope is to learn from the island's hostile animal inhabitants. When she tries to care for an orphaned gosling, the other animals finally decide to help, and the island starts to feel like home. Until one day, the robot's mysterious past comes back to haunt her...
What I Think: If you had asked me, I would have told you that it was highly unlikely that a story about a robot could make my heart race. Or that a story about a robot could make me cry. Or that I could fall in love with a robot. But it's true. It can. It did. And I did. And it's all Peter Brown's fault.
The Wild Robot isn't just a story about a robot. It's about a remarkable, learning robot and all the wilderness friends she makes. Which is to say it's about relationships. It's about relationships in so many different ways and that's what makes it fascinating but also what makes the story resonate so deeply. Peter takes two seemingly simple things: robots, animals, but he puts them together and creates a multi-faceted story that readers will find captivating.
To take a robot and bring her to life in such a way that readers like her - love her - and can relate to her, is a lesson in character development. As a writer, introducing a character to a reader is crucial because if the reader doesn't like the character, he or she probably won't have much interest in continuing to read the story. Readers can look at The Wild Robot and use it as a mentor text to think about what a character might say or do that helps to bring him or her to life for the reader.
What I'm most excited to use The Wild Robot for as a mentor text, is to look at descriptive writing. Peter uses the setting to work for and against his main character in this book. The setting is almost a character in itself because of how it influences Roz and her story. A sense of time and place is very important to a story and Peter takes time to put the reader on the island with Roz by carefully describing her surroundings. He uses alliteration and onomatopoeia and strong word choice to bring the readers right into the story alongside Roz. Students can close their eyes and imagine what their own characters might see, hear, smell, taste, or feel and then try describing similar to how Peter does in The Wild Robot.
Read Together: Grades 3 - 6
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 7
Read With: The Curious Garden and Mr. Tiger Goes Wild and others by Peter Brown, Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman, Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee, Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, The Martian Chronicles and There Will Come Soft Rains (short story) by Ray Bradbury
Snatch of Text:
"Animal sounds filled the forest. Chirps and wingbeats and rustlings in the underbrush. And then, from the sea cliffs, there came new sounds. Heavy, crunching footsteps. The forest animals fell silent, and from their hiding places they watched as a sparkling monster stomped past." (p. 16)
"Roz stood on the peak and watched the sun sink behind the ocean. She watched shadows slowly spread over the island and up the mountainside. She watched the stars come out, one by one, until the sky was filled with a million points of light. It was the first night of the robot's life." (p. 25)
"'...and sometimes I see you waddling behind your funny-looking mother and you seem so nice that I thought I'd come down and introduce myself but now I'm nervous and I'm talking too much and my name is Chitchat I think I said that already.'
There was a pleasant silence.
Brightbill stood on one foot for a moment.
Then the gosling took a deep breath and said, 'It's very nice to meet you Chitchat I don't think you talk too much I think you talk just enough and I like you so let's be friends.'
A big smile appeared on the squirrel's tiny face. For once, Chitchat was speechless." (p. 109)
"'We're a strange family,' said Brightbill, with a little smile. 'But I kind of like it that way.'
'Me too,' said Roz." (p. 126)
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you needed to gain someone's trust and what you did.
Topics Covered: Family, Friendship, Loyalty, Determination, Trustworthiness