My daughter E and I read The Wild Robot by Peter Brown last year, and she’s been asking to read the sequel—The Wild Robot Escapes—ever since. For her eighth birthday, I made sure to have a copy delivered in time.
So in time, in fact, that I accidentally double-clicked the “Buy Now With One Click” button on Amazon and ended up with two copies. Two copies of a good book is never really a problem though, is it? I gave the extra copy to my 9-year-old nephew, and he read it in days.
I usually read just one chapter each night (or in the case of books with realllllly short chapters like The Wild Robot books, a handful of chapters each night), so it takes us a little longer to get through a book that’s 388 pages (like this one is).
The Wild Robot Escapes picks up almost immediately after the end of The Wild Robot, and you definitely need to read that one first, otherwise you’ll be missing a lot of the emotional depth that this series has to offer.
Here’s a brief recap of book one (SPOILERS):
A ROZZUM unit robot named Roz finds herself the sole robot survivor on an island after a shipwreck. She knows nothing of her purpose or capabilities, so she must discover what she can do. In order to survive, she must learn from the animals on the island how to be “wild”. In her exploration, she adopts an orphaned gosling as her son and names him Brightbill. Lots of hijinks ensue, some silly, some heartbreaking, all engrossing. In the end, she is repossessed by the company who made her and sent back to the factory for refurbishing.
In book two, Roz is still the same wild robot, but she must pretend to be a regular robot and assist a widower and his two children by running the day-to-day workings of their family farm for them, all the while planning to escape and return to her island home, her son, and all her other animal friends.
Both of these books are perfect for the nightly reading ritual. The chapters feel episodic when read a few at a time. (I could definitely see this being adapted for television or even film.) The stories plodded for me a little in the middle, but my daughter never seemed to mind.
The world-building is complex, beautiful, even haunting as an adult reader. Brown describes his futuristic world in little hints here and there, and then in miniature info-dumps that almost take your breath away. In this world, there are automated drones and hovercraft, rockets into space, self-driving vehicles, and hyper-focused repo-robots called RECOs that could give the Terminator a run for his money in sheer determination.
There are also underwater ruins and some implications about humankind’s mistakes in history past, but, don’t worry, it never reads like a cautionary tale.
I don’t want to give anything away, but here are a few hints about what else to expect: a dangerous pack of wolves, a friendly herd of cows, lots of feelings about loss and grief, found families, chase scenes and chase scenes and more chase scenes, an unexpected twist, and a satisfying ending.
Note: There is some violence in these books, so I recommend that you read up a little on the content before diving in with children younger than 7-9 years.
I LOVED these. I’m already planning ahead to read them to my son; I know he’ll love them too.
My fingers are crossed for future books in the series too!
Title: The Wild Robot Escapes
Author: Peter Brown
Publication Date: March 2018
Genre: Middle Grade, Science Fiction