The Wild Robot by Peter Brown has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the “Wild Robot” series.
When a cargo ship sinks near a remote island, five new robots in crates fall into the sea. Four are tossed around and broken. The fifth remains intact. Island otters playing around the crate accidentally activate the robot. She announces she is ROZZUM unit 7134, but says they can call her Roz. The nervous otters scatter.
Roz begins to explore the island. She discovers that some of the sticky substances she encounters, like sap and bird droppings, make excellent camouflage. In the weeks that follow, she disguises herself with seaweed, mud and plants to observe the behavior of the island animals.
She begins to learn the patterns and languages of the various creatures. When she feels comfortable speaking in their dialects, she introduces herself. The animals are frightened and irritated, and they call Roz a monster. They avoid or run from her and say mean things about her. A friendly opossum teaches Roz the art of acting, and Roz tries to alter her voice and manner so she will appear warmer and less electronic.
Roz slips down a cliff. She accidentally falls on and kills a family of geese below. Roz finds one remaining egg, which promptly hatches. She takes it to a goose named Loudwing and asks what to do.
Loudwing is initially put off by the robot. When she sees Roz’s desire to save the gosling, she urges Roz to adopt him. She tells the robot how to feed and care for him, and Roz names him Brightbill.
Loudwing suggests Roz ask the beavers to help her build a home for herself and Brightbill. The hesitant beavers soon warm to Roz and help her create a lovely lodge with room for friends, in case she gets some. Other animals lend their aid by defecating on the land nearby so Roz can grow a well-fertilized garden. Soon, many different animals enjoy spending time at Roz’s home. They help her ensure Brightbill is receiving the training he needs.
Roz and Brightbill are inseparable. But when Brightbill gets older, he begins to feel angry and confused about being adopted. He wants to understand the origins of his adopted mother, so he flies off to the robot graveyard to examine the broken bodies there. Roz joins him, and they talk about Brightbill’s feelings. He and Roz notice the buttons on the broken robots’ necks and wonder what would happen if they pushed Roz’s button. She gives Brightbill permission to try, and when he does, Roz becomes lifeless. When Brightbill pushes it again, Roz awakens with all her memories.
Two bear cubs attack Roz, and one cub falls off a cliff. Roz saves the cub and loses one of her legs in the process. Mr. Beaver makes her a new one, and the mother bear becomes Roz’s ally.
Brightbill and his flock migrate to a warmer climate for several months. The brutal island winter devastates the remaining animals. Roz invites some to live in her lodge so they won’t freeze to death. She makes a rule that no one can hunt in her home, so prey and predators must live together harmoniously.
When she sees how many animals are suffering, she builds additional lodges. She teaches the animals to use fire for warmth. When one lodge burns down, Roz saves a baby rabbit. She also helps a fish get back to his home, even though he once terrorized Brightbill. Roz learns to play with the animals and imitate their unique behaviors. She determines she has become a wild robot.
Three robots called RICOs arrive by plane. They’re programmed to retrieve all the robots and parts from the sunken cargo ship, and they demand Roz return with them. When she refuses, they hunt for her in the forest with rifles.
Brightbill and the other animals launch an attack on the RICOs and ultimately destroy all three. Just before the last one shuts down, he promises Roz more RICOs will come for her. The battle leaves Roz with a broken body that the animals cannot repair. In order to keep her friends safe, Roz decides she must return to her makers.
She says goodbyes to her son and the other animals and leaves on a plane to return to her factory of origin. On her trip, she plans how she will escape and return to her island once she’s been rebuilt.
Adult animals, such as Loudwing and the beavers, help Roz learn to be a good mother. The RICOs resort to using weapons to recapture Roz.
Bears attack Roz, and Roz kills a family of geese. Three robots come to retrieve Roz and use rifles to hunt her when she won’t come quietly. The forest animals battle the robots to save Roz. Animals are injured and the bad robots are killed. Animals and robots battle in the end, and the RICOs use guns. Characters are injured, killed or destroyed, both in this battle and by the harsh winter.
Illustrations: Some of the illustrations portray the violence described in the story.
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