CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 6. . . . October 13, 2017
At the start of this story, readers see a downtrodden robot on the shore watching while his boat sinks into the water. Thus begins the nameless protagonist’s journey, one which finds him planting, growing, and cutting down a tree to make himself a new boat before setting sail across a large body of water. His goal is to purchase a new tree seedling to bring home to plant again. He meets friend and foe on his cyclical journey, but he successfully brings home his redemptive plant to make up for past wrong doings.
Row Bot is not a book for everyone. The very simple text relies heavily on the chant-like flow of the repetition of the word bot. It is definitely unique, but that novelty also makes it polarizing. Some will love the clever word play and interesting rhymes while others will find it limiting and tedious in its delivery. I do not say this as a reproach as books need not be written to please everyone in order to be successful. The text is restrictive, and the images are simple, but the story, itself, is one of courage in the face of challenges and ultimately redemption. The fact that the author can provoke emotion and tell a tale of friendship in so few pen strokes is impressive.
Row Bot is a minimalist book that blends graphic storytelling with poetry. It is something very different for the 3-6 age group, but it begs to be read aloud and may just appeal to a very wide variety of children.
Amber Allen is a librarian in Guelph, ON, with a passion for children’s literature and writing.