To make up for Manga Friday being so “adult” and off-limits to kids lately, how about some reviews of books that are made for kids? Here are three very different ones – two of ‘em are even “educational!”
By Sara Varon
First Second, September 2007, $16.95
But let’s start off with a book with no particular pretensions of teaching anyone anything – it’s just the story of the friendship between a dog and his robot. [[[Robot Dreams]]] is a wordless graphic novel by Sara Varon, whose Chicken and Cat was similarly wordless, similarly about a friendship between two anthropomorphic creatures, but which was laid out and published as a picture book. Robot Dreams, though, is a trade paperback, and doesn’t immediately announce itself as a book for kids. (Not as blatantly as a picture book does, at least – that cover would garner some glances on the subway.)
Robot Dreams is set in the kind of world where there are some real people, and some anthropomorphic people – dogs, cats, raccoons, elephants – and nobody ever notices. Dog lives in a city, and sends away for a robot kit. It arrives, and he builds himself a new friend.
They are briefly the best of friends, until a trip to the beach for Labor Day. Robot goes in the water, and then rusts solid on his towel on the beach. Dog can’t move him, and has to leave. And, when Dog comes back a few days later – with a repair manual and some tools – the beach is closed for the winter, with barbed wire on top of a tall fence.