cover image The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess

The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess

Tom Gauld. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4698-8

This invented fairy tale by cartoonist Gauld (Mooncop, for adults) offers whimsy, imaginative power, and narrative poise. When a king and a queen longing for offspring each see an expert about the topic, an inventor creates a wooden robot, and a witch charms a log into a princess who has a secret: she turns back into a log if she falls asleep. Though the children are devoted to each other, the robot fails to conjure the princess anew one fateful morning (“Awake, little log, awake”), and a maid tosses the seemingly out-of-place log out the window. The robot gives chase as the princess hurtles downhill and into a gigantic boatload of lumber headed for the frozen North: “That log is the most precious thing in the world to me,” he says, as he follows it on its journey. The rest of the story unfolds with amusing fairy-tale inevitability (“he had too many adventures to recount here” precedes a paneled page of humorous scenarios) as Gauld’s stick-figure characters and clean, flat panel artwork deliver visual information with the detailed calm of a map or a set of instructions. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Aug.) [/em]