What’s a little boy to do when he loses his best friend?
Industrious Jacob, who looks to be about 6, builds his colorful robot, Rafa, “out of scraps and a whole lot of love.” Rafa, who’s about twice the size of Jacob, resembles a big cereal box, with vacuum-cleaner-hose arms, banded metallic legs and a big glassy red ball on top of his head that has electric current surging through it. They go everywhere together: to swim lessons, school, Paris, Stockholm and even to a galaxy far, far away. One day, Rafa’s not feeling so hot, so Jacob takes him to a doctor, who says he’s “running out of juice.” Jacob amasses a mountain of juice boxes, but the doctor explains that it’s a battery Rafa needs, a very special one. Jacob travels the world in search of it but returns disconsolate and empty-handed. At least he’s there to hold Rafa’s hand when he dies. Wondering how he’ll get by without his friend, Jacob builds a rock monument surrounded by flowers that he can visit every day and makes a pillow that looks like Rafa. “I’ll meet you tonight. In my dreams.” The quirky charm of Dellevoet’s tale and, especially, Turner’s colorfully emotive cartoons seem very true to a child’s imagination. Dellevoet delivers her valuable message about grief with an effectively light touch.
Just lovely. (Picture book. 3-6)