Boy + Bot, Ame Dyckman (author) and Dan Yaccarino (illustrator). Random House, 2012.
Dr. V’s take:
Yes! This book is adorable and underrated. The relationship between Boy, a little boy, and Bot, the robot he encounters while playing in the forest unsupervised for some reason (?) sweetly manages to reflect both how people with the best of intentions can talk past each other and how genuine friendship blooms anyway.
When Bot’s power button accidentally switches off, Boy spends the whole day trying to nurse him back to health his way—-with applesauce and TLC. Similarly, Bot mistakes Boy’s sleeping for a dead battery, and tries to give him a refresher on his instruction manual. But Bot’s inventor (who might evoke Edward Scissorhands’s inventor for parents who were ’90s kids if not for Yaccarino’s clean drawing style, which somehow manages to make him seem non-creepy) and Boy’s parents (who seem loving despite somehow missing that their son had a 6-foot robot in his bedroom) help the friends understand that they have different needs.
The book delivers this pretty complex lesson, however, in a really simple, fun, and even silly way—-rather than offering a prepackaged homily, the dynamic between the two title characters is a subtle reflection of life that parents will immediately recognize and kids will be able to understand eventually. Until then, they will giggle at Bot’s attempt to oil Boy’s ears, because as all little kids know, doing stuff that is the opposite of what we know we’re supposed to do is never not hilarious.