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Robot Dreams [Paperback]

Sara Varon
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 19.99
Price: CDN$ 14.43 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Aug. 7 2007
This moving, charming graphic novel about a dog and a robot shows us in poignant detail how powerful and fragile relationships are. After a Labor Day jaunt to the beach leaves the robot rusted, immobilized in the sand, the dog must return alone to the life they shared. But the memory of their friendship lingers, and as the seasons pass, the dog tries to fill the emotional void left by the loss of his closest friend, making and losing a series of friends, from a melting snowman to epicurean anteaters.  But for the robot, lying rusting on the beach, the only relief from loneliness is in dreams. 

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From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 3 Up—Dog wants a friend. Dog builds a robot. The two go to the library to get movies, and they make popcorn. They go to the beach, and the dog encourages the robot to play with him in the water. Robot is unable to move afterward because he has rusted stiff, and the dog finally leaves him there on his blanket on the sand. Seasons pass, and both Robot and Dog reflect on what happened, and both are changed because of this experience. The canine goes through a series of friendships that are unfulfilling in different ways: a duck goes south for the winter, a snowman melts, and the anteaters expect him to share their lunches. Meanwhile, the robot is lying on the beach, immobile but awake. He dreams of being rescued, of making new friends, of reuniting with Dog, of never having entered the water in the first place. While he dreams, his body is covered by sand and snow, is used for parts by scavengers, and even serves as a nesting place for a bird. This almost wordless (and dialogue-free) graphic novel is by turns funny and poignant. The cartoon artwork is clear and easy to understand. Varon uses a muted palette of earth tones with great skill. This book is like those board games that can be appreciated by anyone from 8 to 80. It is a quick read, but it will stay with readers long after they put it down.—Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In this nearly wordless graphic novel, Dog's desire for a companion is satisfied the day Robot arrives by mail. Dog assembles Robot, and their adventure begins. After visiting the library, watching movies, and eating popcorn, the companions end up at the dog beach. Robot is hesitant to frolic in the waves at first, but after a short pause, he dives right in. The result is unfortunate—a rusty, immobile Robot. Unsure of what to do for his friend, remorseful Dog abandons Robot on the sand to dream of what might have been (depicted first in brown tonal artwork as opposed to the color used to designate actions in real time) had things turned out differently. While Robot is used and abused, and eventually disposed of in a scrap yard, Dog agonizes over his companion, then begins searching for a new one with mixed, sometimes comic results. Varon's drawing style is uncomplicated, and her colors are clean and refreshing. Although her story line seems equally simple, it is invested with true emotion. Her masterful depiction of Dog's struggles with guilt and Robot's dreams of freedom effectively pulls readers into this journey of friendship, loss, self-discovery, and moving forward. Use this as Exhibit A to prove that graphic novels can pack an emotional punch equal to some of the best youth fiction. King, Kevin

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Build a robot - get a friend Jan. 20 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sara Varon has a thoughtful and engaging way of telling a story through words and art. Her story explores the nuts and bolts of friendship.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robot Dreams May 20 2008
By Pauline
Format:Paperback
Robot Dreams" is a graphic novel that you can read from start to finish while you eat your lunch, as long as you also have dessert and eat slowly.

I love the beginning where dog is lonely, so he constructs a robot from a mail order kit. This robot becomes dog's best friend. It is a great touch to see the robot carrying the movie "Castle in the Sky" which is a nice tribute to anime and of course robot enjoys watching the robots in the movie.

Dog and his friend robot go to the beach, but robot plays in the water and once he dries off finds that he cannot move, so dog leaves him and goes home. Dog does try to rescue him, but is unsuccessful.

The book is poignant in its realistic handling of how friendships come and go, but how the memory of them does remain with us.

"Robot Dreams" will leave you pondering over its message long after you put it down and move on with your life. The art work is a delight to the eyes. A wonderful graphic novel, great for all ages, even adults will appreciate its message.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for children Feb. 23 2011
Format:Paperback
What a beautiful story! In love and friendship we all experience change and loss. Sometimes, despite our best efforts people drift apart. I think Sara Varon's approach to this type of challenge is very human- no one is really at fault, yet the characters suffer and eventually they find their way through the difficult times.
The world of graphic novels is growing- Not just for kids! Not just for boys! Hooray!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do robots dream of electric sheep? Aug. 9 2007
By E. R. Bird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The wordless graphic novel for children. Adults, quite frankly, haven't a clue how to deal with them. But for those kids intimidated by words, new to the English language, or just fond of visual storytelling, these new forms of literature are nothing less than a godsend. From the picture book-sized, The Boy, the Bear, the Baron, the Bard to Andy Runton's remarkably popular, Owly series, wordless has never been hotter amongst the young `uns. More to the point, graphic novel imprint First Second has never been intimidated by new formats. Its mighty peculiar A.L.I.E.E.E.N., for example, was essentially wordless (not to say wuh-eird weird weird). Though First Second may tend to look to other nations for their stories, they're certainly not afraid of a little homegrown talent on the side. Enter Sara Varon. Best known at the moment for the wordless picture book Chicken And Cat, this Brooklyn resident has produced a full-blown novel of remarkable sweetness. Linear and lovely, broken up with daydreams and fantasies, "Robot Dreams" is a small "simple" story of friendship and letting go. Relationships have never pared down so perfectly.

A dog purchases a robot kit so that he might have a friend to hang out with. The robot, a mellow type, enjoys hanging out with the dog, eating popcorn, watching movies, and going to the library. A trip to the beach, however, turns out to be a less than stellar idea when the robot goes swimming only to rust up and find that it can no longer move. The dog goes home for the night, intending to take the robot along later. Unfortunately, the beach is closed the next day and the poor robot is stuck on the sand, dreaming of things both good and bad. As the months go by, both robot and dog have their own small adventures, real and unreal. By the end, however, they each find new and separate companions. The last image in the book is of the robot seeing the dog with another robot, and understanding that this is a case when you've just got to let the person you love go.

You get certain ideas about a book when you look at it. Reading about the concept and glancing at the cover, I had the vague idea that the title would be a series of small adventures shared by the dog and the robot. So when the robot seized up 18 pages into the narrative and was abandoned by his companion (with more than 150 pages to go) I admit that I was a little shocked. Out the window go all my assumptions about the story. Though it's difficult to call it "writing" without having any words to direct you to, Varon's grasp of what makes a good narrative serves her very well here. It doesn't hurt matters any that I also love Varon's style. She's one of those deceptively simple artists. You feel a real and solid attachment to the creatures she's created, no matter how odd they may seem. There's also a real emotional arc to the tale. For example the robot at one point dreams of the betrayal it would feel if the dog found a new robot to hang out with (as it does later in the story). The dog, for its part, finds a variety of different friends during its travels. Birds. Anteaters. A snowman that comes to such a subtle end that it makes Raymond Briggs look like a murderer in comparison.

Varon spots her book with little shout-outs to her various interests and inspirations. Canny readers will notice that near the end the robot and its raccoon friend are reading books like The Rabbi's Cat, by Joann Sfar. I was intrigued by this mention of a fellow graphic novelist. Yet as my husband was quick to point out, Varon is rather similar to Sfar in that her stories are about extraordinary creatures doing relatively mundane things. Of course, my husband also says that this book is akin to The Giving Tree, had the tree found someone new to love it instead of that nasty boy. I couldn't disagree more, but I thought I'd mention it here, just in case you want to see for yourself whether or not it's true.

By and large, "Robot Dreams" is that rare combination of the sweet and the emotionally resonant. To me, this is basically a story about friendship, love, and how to move on when your heart's been broken. It just happens to also be wrapped up in a very innocent tale of a dog and his robot. Undoubtedly this will fly right under the radar of a lot of people who will miss the serious thread lurking beneath the pretty packaging. It's no easy task to produce a narrative sequence without a single spoken word. Harder still to drill home a heart's journey. Varon, then, is one to watch out for. A weirdly magnificent tale.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreakingly Sad for the Young Reader March 7 2012
By Tea4Three - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Though my son thoroughly enjoyed the graphics of this book, he was extremely heartbroken at the end and cried. He felt like the dog should of done more to help his friend, he felt like the dog abandoned his robot friend. And he couldn't believe that he would just leave the robot and go buy a new robot friend, like buying a new friend could replace his old friend. He wanted there to be another book that brought the two of them together again. I too, found myself at a loss at the end of the book. I said there is probably another book where they are together again and I made up a whole new ending and told my son that you never give up on a friend no matter what. If it was a book just about loss, that would of been fine, but the implications that the robot was "abandon" and made a new friend, without ever knowing if his old friend was still around, was a bit disturbing.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars it depends on the child... March 31 2012
By Connie Savage Frokic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
My kids loved Bake Sale, so we picked this one up, too. Our 9-yr old daughter loved it - but our 7-yr old son was really destroyed by the ending - he was crying and yelling uncontrollably - that they "missed each other" and would never see each other again, and that the dog gave up on his friend. He was so upset, and we couldn't "undo" what he'd seen... so, be careful if you have a sensitive type child.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overlooks Determination. Feb. 9 2011
By Arthur - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It's supposed to be a cute tale about making peace with moving on. Unfortunately it falls apart upon analysis. Spoilers are necessary to explain.

About the Dog, You don't bring a friend to life (heavy stuff) and then abandon them paralyzed on a beach in a time of need. Also you don't stop trying to save them because of a "no trespassing" sign. It bugged me the dog didn't try harder, I kept wondering why he didn't keep going back. Determination was totally overlooked, imagine if a parent left a child helpless on the beach because they couldn't lift them, not likely. It was obvious the dogs lack of ambition was necessary to facilitate the ending.

About the Robot, he's a good sport, but in the end should have let the dog know he was still alive and well. Humming the music wasn't enough, I'd hate to find out someone close I thought was dead was still alive and didn't tell me. For any of this to make sense, some sort of actual reunion/reconciliation needed to occur.

Visually it's nice, but it's hard to imagine anyone would act so passively in somewhat dire circumstances.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for adults, teenagers, adolescents! Sept. 9 2007
By Em - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
An emotional journey of friendship, one that every person can relate to. This simple, wordless story reflects the joy and pain of friendship, but ultimately, how each relationship in our lives shapes us. Friends come and go, but they always remain within us. This book will act as a catalyst for discussion and reflection of friendship and relationships among readers of all ages. It is a rare feat for a book to evoke such emotion. Way to go, Sara Varon! You've created a timeless work of art!
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