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Little Robot

Little Robot Little Robot

Little Robot back

Ben Hatke


Page 45 Review by Stephen

"It's a flower. It's alive too."

Two panels later, it isn't.

From the creator of the ZITA THE SPACEGIRL trilogy, a book of newfound friendship for a slightly younger audience which touches briefly on identity and belonging and comes with one moment of quite unexpected, jealous betrayal which is echoed towards the end with a much more sanguine outcome.

Both worked for me. I think the possessive jealously will be widely recognised and we're none of us above making mistakes. I foresee this as a graphic novel being read together and wondered at by families, perhaps discussing what's happening for the first twenty pages are silent and quite a lot too later on.

There's some spectacular lighting for both midday and night and one double-page spread at sunset seen across a small, leaf-lined lake which lets so much light through that it's surely executed either in coloured inks or very wet watercolours indeed. We'll come back to the cracking design work for the robots in a bit. Oh, our titular Little Robot is far from alone, I promise you!

It begins late one crescent-mooned night with traffic speeding across a bridge for a city. A lorry loses a box which tumbles out of its back and into the river below. It's discovered way downstream the next morning by a young girl who's cautious but ever so curious and a dab hand with her back-slung tool kit. That will come in very handy indeed later on!

In it is she finds a metal object which at first resembles a giant silver yoyo, but on a press of a button on top of its bonce expands into a wobbly-legged, cylindrical, two-eyed, bipedal robot. Initially frightened, the young girl can see that it's struggling, floundering on its back with its legs in the air like a beetle. Instinctively she breaks cover to help.

"That's it," she says supporting new friend like a crutch. "One step at a time."

Interlude: meanwhile back at a factory so automated it might even have conceivably been built by robots - there's not a human in sight - an alarm goes off.

"Missing Unit 00012. Locate and recover."

The robot dispatched looks a lot less human and a lot less friendly.

Although a bright, clean yellow it has an angrily red Cyclops eye over which frowns a black triangle pointing down; it scuttles slowly out on six, segmented, scorpion-like legs, boasts two sharp, pincered claws, a weaponised bum and a big, broad, flat mouth you could easily fit a little robot into.

"ZOM!" it will say, and that's not a sound to make you feel safe, is it? Sensors running, it picks up speed in search of its prey...

Oh, it's all been very well thought through, including other elements which immediately flash danger signs like a chain-link fence which you've always been told you're not supposed to go past or through trampled into the ground, its boundary breached.

There are many more robots to come, huge battle action, rain, lightning and learning curves.