Ben Hatke works his magic again! He creates a beautiful story with only a few words, and most of those are sound effects!
A little girl (she doesn’t have a name) finds an abandoned robot, and he becomes her friend. It’s her only friend, as it turns out. I’m pretty sure she’s young, too young to go to school, and spends her days escaping her trailer park home and exploring the local junkyard. (We get all of this in about eight pages and absolutely no words at all!) She finds the robot and teaches it about the world around them. We can see that while the girl is trying to teach the robot, it doesn’t necessarily understand all that it learns. The difference between things that were alive and are now dead versus things that were never alive is difficult for the robot to understand. The girl tries to help, but she doesn’t quite understand either, being so young. So they have a falling out, but the girl has to go and save her new friend. But she doesn’t have to do it all on her own, as she’s a bit of a robot-whisperer, and quickly makes some new friends. (Literally, kind of!)
This is an exciting adventure about friendship, and is perfect for a reluctant reader. He uses words sparingly, and only when the art can’t speak for itself. The emotions that Ben Hatke can portray in things that don’t normally have them is amazing. The little girl is a person of color and is either socially awkward or shy, I can’t quite tell. She is definitely more comfortable around her robot friends than other people, which a lot of people can relate to. (Well, substitute technology or books or something for robots, but you get the idea.) Just because someone may not be the life of the party does not mean that they don’t have feelings, or that they can’t create beautiful things. You don’t know everyone’s story, and if they don’t decide to tell you, you may never know. And that’s okay.