The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess – Tom Gauld, Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, 2021. 9780823446988
Format: Hardcover Picture book
What did you like about the book? The story reads as if it is a retelling of an old fairy tale, yet it is brand new. The King and Queen are happy yet they long for a child. The king visits the royal inventor while the queen pays a visit to a clever old witch who lived in the woods. Each asked for a child. The inventor creates “a wonderful, intricate little wooden robot.” The witch works her magic on a log creating “a perfect little log princess”. “The king and the queen and the princess and the robot all loved each other instantly”. The log princess turned back into a log at night and was woken by her brother in the morning with these words “Awake, little log, awake”. They played together every day and every one was very happy. Until… until one morning a traveling circus comes to town and the little robot runs out to see it before waking the princess. Seeing a log in the bed of the princess, the disgusted maid chucks it out the window! The robot runs after the rolling log that is picked up by a goblin and sold to the captain of a barge shipping logs. The little robot is allowed on board the barge to look for the princess but there are so many that he does not find her before the logs are left in a pile at the frozen North. Naturally the little robot stays still determined to find the princess. When he finally does he knows he cannot wake her up in the frozen North so he loads her in his cart and begins the long journey home. He becomes so tired that he wakes the princess, telling her what happened. She puts him in the cart to sleep and continues the journey home. After some time, she, too, becomes exhausted and falls asleep.
The illustrations, created with pen on paper for the drawings and colored digitally, complement the story by appearing very simple, detailed and old-fashioned. Bold typewriter text appears in white boxes. The Queen and the Princess are brown-skinned while the King and the Robot are white.
Anything you did not like about the book? Perfection.
To whom would you recommend this book? Children aged 3-8 would love this modern, old-fashioned fairy tale as would their parents. A nice bedtime story or a storytime choice.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries, K-2 classrooms and everyone else
Where would you shelve it? Picture Books
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Retired Librarian, Editor, Youth Services Book Review
Date of Review: September 6, 2021