Review: The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess By Tom Gauld

Today I share a super fun book from 2021 about a wooden robot, a log princess, an inventor, a witch, a big adventure, and a family of gold medal winning beetles. This book is jammed packed with outrageous details and captivating storytelling that will keep you hooked til the very end. Check out The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess by Tom Gauld, 2021.

Very detailed illustrations of a king and queen and their kingdom and opposite panels of the king walking through a dark room and a queen walking through the forest to a little cottage.

This story starts as all good fairy tale stories should, with a king and a queen in a pleasant land. But alas, they have no children. They both very much want children, so they each attempt to solve the problem by one asking an inventor for help and the other inquiring of a witch.

Inventor on the left page tinkering with lots of inventions around her. Wooden robot is in the center as her final creation. The right page has a green skinned witch working on a log and lots of strange things surround the shelves around her. The log princess is highlighted in the top center of her page.

Joyfully, not one, but two children come out of the requests – a wooden robot and a log princess. They are both wonderful.

The log princess has a little quirk that is kept secret where every night when she falls asleep, she turns back into the log she was made from until she is awakened again with specific words. Her dear robot brother, who is so kind that he allows a family of beetles to reside inside his workings, typically wakens her each morning.

Top picture shows the four walking together through a doorway. Under that is a panel with the princess sleeping and then the princess turned log on the bed. Right page has the wooden robot giggling with a highlighted pop-out of the beetles living inside him. Bottom panel shows the robot and princess walking past the sunset into the castle.

But one day, the little wooden robot is distracted and forgets to waken his sister before the maid discovers the log and tosses it out the window thinking it a mistake in the bed. The robot thankfully sees it occur and off he goes on a great chase to find his log sister, awaken her, and safely bring her back to the castle.

Robot is chasing the bouncing log down a grassy hill. On the right page, a goblin is putting the found log into a wheelbarrow full of logs. Under that is four pictures showing the goblin taking the wheelbarrow to a ship then getting a coin and then a pile of similar looking logs.

This story is just pure delight. It is quite long and perfectly so. All the elements of a great fairy tale are present and add much humor, depth, and layers of detail to discover on each read.

Wooden robot is standing atop a giant pile of logs hugging a log that is his sister. A small round panel is on the right showing the robot pulling the car with his log sister under a blanket inside it.

Slight spoiler: I particularly love how this fairy tale story has the wonderful happy ending, but gets around to it in many unconventional ways. Shouldn’t be a surprise considering one of the heroes and presumably the prince is a wooden robot and his sister turns into a log each night (though that feels more familiar to odd fairy tale curses). The best part is that the hero of the story is both of them. This isn’t a knight in shining armor, or even in a wooden robot get-up, saving the helpless princess. This is about love and helping each other until they both fail and a surprising group of creatures comes to their rescue.

Left page shows princess and robot holding hands and smiling with cart in the background. The right page is broken into 6 panels, each showing an adventure the princess had to conquer: being tied up by pixies, holding a cracked dragon's egg, feuding hunters with the princess between them brokering peace, princess looking surprised and scared with a ghost coming out of a brick chimney, a giant blackbird chasing the princess, and a rosebush with a baby inside it and the princess waving to it.

Every time I read this book I love it more. Especially when reading with one of my girls. It is just so entertaining and intriguing. I love looking for details and laughing over little bits here and there.

The panel format is also really well done, expertly used to carry the pacing of a very wonderful and long story just right. The illustrations are also quite fun and clever in their simple style. You can tell Gauld has a comic and graphic novel background.

Highly recommend this one. It’s going to be a hit no matter the age.

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