Sammy and the Robots
Orchard Books, May, 2001.
Picture Book, 32 pages.
Ian Whybrow has written a sensitive book about a little boy who loves his toy robots and his grandmother who understands him. In the story, Sammy is shocked when his robot falls over and its lights go out. Sammy hears Gran coughing in the next room, so he runs in to show her his robot. Gran and Sammy discover that a battery has leaked onto the robot's wires, so they pack it up and send it off to the robot hospital. Then Sammy decides to build another robot while he waits for the first one to come back from the hospital. Sadly, Gran is too sick to help and has to go back to bed. The next morning Gran is nowhere to be seen, and Mom explains that Gran has gone to the hospital to get her cough cured. So Sammy tries to build a robot on his own, a robot that will blast away Gran's cough. Sammy teaches the robot to talk and to blast a cough. Sammy goes to the hospital to see Gran, but he and his sister Meg can only see her through a window and Gran does not open her eyes. Sammy sneaks into Gran's room when the grownups are not watching and holds his robot up so that it can blast Gran's cough. Mom is alarmed, but the doctor says that a robot might help Gran a lot. So Sammy makes more robots, which he places all around Gran's bed. When he next visits Gran in the hospital the robots have blasted Gran's cough; she can come home. Gran comes home and is well enough to check on the chickens, and the first robot comes home from the robot hospital as good as new.
This little tale of Sammy and his robots leaves many doors open for an adult to explore with a young child. Grandparents do get sick and have to go to hospitals, and this can produce fears in a young child. It is comforting to hear a story about a child who could do something for a grandparent using his toys and skills. There is fantasy here, but it is not too fanciful, for who knows what the small child of today may invent in the future? Many childish dreams become the real future of the person.
Adrian Reynolds has drawn Sammy as a simple little boy using minimal lines, almost as a cartoonist does. The pictures of Sammy and Gran are large and simple, but sensitive in their expressions. Strong, bright colors are also used to appeal to young minds. The result is strong, simple illustrations that will be easy for a child to understand and will convey the emotion of the characters in an effective way.
Stories that deal with some of the problems that young children must deal with can be the starting point for many conversations with adults, and they can help a child formulate his fears and anxieties in a positive way. Sammy and the Robots would be an excellent starting point for a child to express his feelings about illness and those he loves.
--Sarah Reaves White
Sammy and the Robots is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the August, 2001 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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