This story of misunderstandings didn't do much other than present the two misunderstandings and solve them. Sometimes I worry that formulaic stories seem a bit too mathematical and formulaic. The parallel misunderstandings in this story are very similar to the one in Boot + Shoe
. But even before that it reminded me of Blueberries for Sal
, where for some reason the misunderstandings were more electric. Blueberries is one of my all time favorites, and this one didn't give me even close to the same experience.
The story is so spare, it makes me think of more of a preschool book than a primary grades book. The pacing, illustration, and design are all interesting to look at and have the slick style we expect from Yaccarino, including the animator's sensibility for storyboarding and design he brings from his work with the Oswald project. No designer credit suggests Yaccarino took the lead on graphic design.
As far as themes go, as soon as I read the misunderstandings about switches and sleep I was reminded of I, Robot
, where the idea of being switched off was the same as being executed. Then I was reminded of the anthropology and ethnography I've read on how ancient cultures perceived sleep as being very similar to being dead (I think there are passages about this in Frazer's Golden Bough--where the people had all kinds of rules and taboos about what you do and don't do to a sleeping person at the risk of their soul or life), and at that moment this story seemed very poignant. But the pictures did nothing to carry forward any idea that either the boy or robot was very disturbed, just that they went through the regular motions to help someone who is 'sick'. When I think of the deep emotion I experienced with Gaetan Doremus' Bear Despair
, Boy + Bot was far, far away by comparison.