The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess
This is a whimsical, truly magical neo fairy tale that begins as often fairy tales do with a king and queen ruling happily, from their hilltop castle; but they are childless.
One night both husband and wife decide to try and change that: the king consults the royal inventor; the queen pays a visit to a clever witch living in the woods.
Inventor and witch set to work right away, the former using her best tools to fashion a tiny intricate robot, the latter uses her deepest magic on a log and from it conjures a perfect little living log princess.
All family members love one another and the siblings spend their days playing happily but they share a secret: by night the princess reverts to her log form and is only woken by her brother’s incantation of “Awake, little log, awake.”
One morning though, the princess is left alone in bed sleeping and catastrophe – she is tossed out of the window by a maid and ends up rolling away toward the village.
Her brother gives chase only to discover she has been sold to a barge captain taking a cargo of logs to the Frozen North. Unhesitatingly to rescue her, he boards the barge as it sails away and eventually his search is rewarded. Then it’s time to begin the arduous journey home, a journey that is so full of hazards and adventures that the hero’s parts wear right out.
But not before he’s uttered the magic words, brought the princess back to life and recounted all that’s happened.
Words of forgiveness are spoken, then it’s her turn to take charge of the situation and she bravely steps up.
The princess too has many adventures, with obstacles to overcome, not the least being her increasing tiredness. Fighting sleep she trudges on until she can go no further and …
Will they ever reach home? Well, this is a fairytale that began, as many do, ‘There once lived a king and queen …’ so as readers will be hoping, it does end ‘and they all lived happily ever after.’ Before that though, there’s a further sequence of selfless acts of kindness, a witch encounter and yet more kindness.
There is a tremendous amount to love about this book, not least being the wonderful montages of both heroes’ adventures. Then there’s Tom Gauld’s artistic style with its textures, well-chosen colour palette and the wealth of delightful details that start on the front endpapers and continue throughout the book, adding further depth to the text, while his portrayal of characters be they key protagonists or bit part players, are an absolute delight.
A cracking book to get lost in, time and again, whether you share it with one child, several or a whole class.