By Ben Hatke
Published by First Second, 2015
Ben Hatke’s Little Robot is about a lonely young girl with the heart of an engineer, who finds and accidentally assembles a lost robot. Anxious for a playmate, she teaches him to walk, to play and communicate.
The little girl blossoms with her newfound friendship, but a nasty, clunky bully-bot has discovered Little Robot is missing. And it wants him back. Couple this with Little Robot’s desire to find more friends like himself, and the little girl must not only fight to save him, but be willing to let him go, as well.
The story is multi-layered; it speaks to the ingenuity of a child in the absence of limitations placed on imagination, to independence, bravery and devotion, and to the triumph of imagination over poverty.
A lovely thing that Hatke does, is focus on development. In the beginning, the little girl’s skills seem tentative, but by the end, as her confidence grows, she becomes more adept at fixing the robots, from turning them on to rewiring them into kinder, happier entities quickly, all expertly. In contrast to this positive growth, Hatke employs the same device to demonstrate fragility; despite all of her accomplishments, in a few frames at the ending, we see the heroine’s struggle with loneliness and self worth.
The illustrations are beautiful, crisp, and range from warm to heart-wrenching. Hatke uses words sparsely, because they’re not needed to convey the emotion of each frame.
My heart was full when I finished. What a beautiful book.
Kinderlit requested and received a copy of Little Robot in exchange for an honest review. Read more about our Review Policy HERE.