Monday, June 7, 2010

Graphic Novel Monday: Robot Dreams, by Sara Varon

Robot Dreams, by Sara Varon. Published 2007 by First Second. Graphica. Fiction.

I discovered Robot Dreams on a recent foray to one of my favorite comics shops, Cambridge's Million Year Picnic. I went in search of comics by women and came up with a few fun titles; Robot Dreams is a sweet, quick read written and drawn by Chicago native Sara Varon, also author of Sweaterweather and Chicken and Cat.

Robot Dreams is a silent comic, meaning there is no dialogue; instead, simple art in a pastel palette of grays, blues and greens tells a bittersweet story of a doomed friendship between a dog and the robot he builds to keep himself company. The dog and robot go to the beach, but the robot gets wet and rusts; the dog, unsure of what to do, abandons him. Months go by; we watch the dog's attempts at forming new friendships and see the robot, immobile, dream of escape. After a time both the dog and the robot move on in their way, but fond memories of their friendship will stay with them both forever.

This is a really adorable book about the power of friendship and forgiveness, and the ways life changes us in ways in we don't expect. It's beautiful to look at and Varon does a great job of telling the story through pictures alone. The feelings evoked range from happiness to loneliness to bittersweet sadness as the settings vary from beautiful sunlight days to cold, snowy landscapes to snug domestic interiors. The colors are gentle and muted and reflect the understated emotional tone of the story.

Robot Dreams is a great choice for just about anyone interested in graphic novels. As a silent book, it would be a nice book for a parent to read with a child, or for a child to read on his or her own. Silent comics are terrific for helping a pre-literate child develop his or her storytelling skills; since there are no words, the child (or any reader) has to concentrate on the pictures and consciously tell him or herself the story as the child goes along. And the book is perfectly family-friendly. But like I said, I'd recommend this winner of a book to just about everyone.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.