Wednesday, November 14, 2012

In Which I Rant About Something That Is Probably Nothing

Deux found a very cute little graphic novel about a robot at the library today and I let him bring it home. I prelooked it (there were no actual words involved) and I doubt anything in it will damage him. But it still bugged me.

The story line is that this dog makes a robot from a kit and they are best buds and do fun things together and then the robot goes swimming and gets too rusted up to go home from the beach. After a while the dog gets a book on robot repair and tries to go back to the beach and rescue the robot, but it's closed for the season. So he goes home and tries to play with other things and finally gets a new robot kit. Meanwhile the robot daydreams of being rescued and gets scavenged for parts and finally hauled off for scraps. There his few remaining parts are found by a raccoon, who turns him back into a cool radio robot. In the final scenes, the radio robot sees his original dog friend walking by with his new robot, and he turns on the radio and plays them a tune as they pass.

Message, as far as I can tell: Relationships are fleeting. Enjoy but move on.

Maybe it's silly. I mean, nobody says a robot gets a till-death-do-us-part vow. But surely even a robot deserves a little more perseverance. Fight for your friend, little dog! Climb the fence! Borrow a boat! Don't just walk away and find someone new!

Then again, maybe it's not so silly. How can we raise children to be loyal and faithful, to be capable of permanent relationships, without holding it up to them as an ideal when they are too young to be cynical and jaded? So much of modern's children books seem to be an effort to prepare children for life by lowering their expectations; by smashing idols that have never had time to be built.

Maybe I'll just make sure he checks out Horton Hatches An Egg next week.


Wendy said...

Personally, I find the robot book appalling! Seriously, who thought it should be published? For kids?!

I find it irritating (could you tell?) that so many children's books are billed as "boldly" iconoclastic.

At this point, here is nothing bold about tearing down traditional virtues, in fact it's rather tediously repetitive.

Yes, we know girl's can be spunky. A really bold concept in this social milieu would be: boys can be heroes, too!

Interestingly, these are not the books (my)kids love, they like the older (nobler?) tales.

Kansas Mom said...

I followed the link from Brandy at Afterthoughts. I haven't read this book, but I agree with you completely. I have extremely high standards for picture books and am learning to be unconcerned about those who disagree. Zita the Spacegirl might be a good antidote for this particular one - a wonderful book on courage, friendship, and perseverance with some nifty robots as well.

Queen of Carrots said...

Thanks for the recommendation! I try to encourage classic reads (and was delighted to see him devouring *The Horse and His Boy* yesterday), but I like to acknowledge their interests and time in history too.