The Robot King by Brian Selznick

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Robot King CoverI recently picked up a copy of The Robot King authored and illustrated by Brian Selznick at my local library. The tale of The Robot King is an enveloping read that feels sentimental about the strange and at ease with the enigmatic. Ezra and Lucy are inventive siblings who fill the loss of their mother with an attic full of found objects and mechanical toys-autonomous doll heads nip at their heels and jars burst with buttons. One day, Lucy unveils her most ingenious creation-the robot king! He has the heart of a music box and limbs of electricity which bring life to forgotten things. Despite his fondness for the children, the robot king follows the ‘porcelain bees’ of destiny to animate the inanimate in a world that lies just beyond the attic window.

The illustrations in The Robot King are beautifully intricate and are reminiscent of a scrapbook schematic. The arresting gaze of the children depicted in the drawings also add to the underlying haunted feeling of the past throughout the story.  At times, The Robot King reads more like an inventor’s surreal sketchbook of Frankenstein proportions than a children’s tale. Although the story is enchanting and the illustrations are stunning, I felt amiss at the end of the story.  It was the equivalent of an abrupt film ending that declares itself as nothing more than a dream.  You love being in the dream world however you don’t want the reality of the end. There was such more that I wanted to learn about  the children and the robot king. I wanted to follow Lucy and Ezra even further down the path of bewitched bicycles and suspended stoves.

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Written by corvusblue

September 3, 2009 at 8:06 am

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