THE ROBOT KING by Brian Selznick
Kirkus Star


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From the author of The Houdini Box (1991), a haunting, enigmatic tale of two lonely children who create something wonderful. Ezra, mute since his mother's death, compulsively collects small things--pebbles, bits of glass, clock parts, wires, keys--that older sister Lucy uses to craft mechanical toys. When she assembles a man-sized figure and inserts their mother's music box as a heart, it comes alive--and what life! Sparks fly from it, pieces that fall or break off whirl through the air, and when it escapes the attic, it leaves a trail of animated bicycles and other machines for the children to follow. The story ends on a suspended note; Lucy and Ezra never do catch up to the Robot King, but a ferris wheel spins them skyward, where they touch the moon and catch a glimpse of their long-absent father returning home. Readers will respond deeply to this, and to the return of Ezra's speech, but they may wish for a stronger sense of closure, and for more of the lovely illustrations, too. Selznick's dark, soft-textured pencil drawings enhance the narrative's elegaic air. The Robot King, with its mannequin's head and packed, indistinct body half-hidden beneath a long velvet jacket, cuts an oddly elegant figure, and the human faces are rendered with a sad, composed beauty.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1995
Page count: 80pp
Publisher: HarperCollins