by Lauren Allison
The Wild Robot (276 pgs, grades 3-6) by award-winning author, Peter Brown, is the story of a robot named Roz who, after a shipwreck, washes up on an island inhabited by animals. The only surviving robot of the crash, she is left alone on the island, with no memory of how she got there or what her purpose is.
At first, Roz clashes with the natives of her island home, as they are convinced she is a monster.
However, Roz is an AI robot, and she begins to observe and learn about the animals around her. She learns to speak their shared language.
And when she finds an orphaned gosling, she decides to raise him as her son.
With each passing day the animals of the island respect Roz more and become her friends.
But when robots invade the island to get Roz back, will her friends fight for her or let her go?
In this heartwarming tale of friendship, love, and courage, the lines between robot, human, and animal are blurred, and what is left is compassion and caring for all life.
The Wild Robot is jam-packed from beginning to end with compassion for others. It is an amazing and beautifully told tale with a heartbreaking ending (Roz leaves her island to save her friends and her son).
The possibilities for discussion and exploration are endless with this book. Students learn about empathy, making friends, and the importance of accepting others who at first glance appear different from themselves.
Students can also learn about animal survival; and they can imagine how a robot might survive in their own communities.
Students can think about the role of technology in society and imagine the kind of future author Peter Brown has created, where robots seem to have a large role in day-to-day tasks. Students can discuss the implications of a future dependent on robots and consider what kind of future they want to see (and help create).
Students can discuss the ways in which they begin to feel compassion and empathy for Roz as they watch her learn and grow. And can explore their definitions of family and how everyone’s families look different, but at their heart, most are the same.
Check out more suggested children’s books in our Resource Center.