Ezra and Lucy are two motherless children who spend their days at the graveyard where their mother is buried. In this melancholy place, beneath the ruined skeleton of an abandoned fairground they daydream and Lucy makes up stories about their mother and the way their lives could have been. Ezra doesn’t talk at all.
After they leave the graveyard they return home, to the attic where Ezra and Lucy store their special possessions. Ezra likes to gather small items, pieces of glass, pebbles, marbles, silverware, lost keys. Lucy likes to make devices out of things that Ezra gathers. She has made a toy that walked like an insect on twig legs, doll heads on wheels that race around the attic, and other fascinating mechanical wind ups. One day, thought, Lucy tells Ezra that she needs just one more thing to complete her latest project.
Together Lucy and Ezra take their dead mother’s treasured music box and snap it into place in Lucy’s device. It is a fantastic clockwork man, and the music box is his heart, carefully hidden away in the deepest part of the clockwork man’s chest.
Lucy names her creation the Robot King, and after Ezra winds up the music box heart, the Robot King begins to move. At first the Robot King totters and jerks like a new baby learning to move, but slowly it gains confidence and begins to learn about its surroundings. And then Lucy and Ezra discover the wonderful power of their creation, and the Robot King changes their life completely.
“The Robot King,” by Brian Selznick is a wonderful piece of writing and art. The text is very sensitive, with delicate imagery, and sublime emotional content. Selznick’s portrayal of Ezra and Lucy is filled with love. In addition, the scenes and places are filled with fascinating details that are further enlivened by Brian Selznick’s black and white pencil drawings. The amazing Robot King is the key to the entire story, and in this respect both the drawings of him and the text about him is wonderful.
“The Robot King” is a wonderful story that is enhanced by the beautiful and moving images that accompany it.
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