Friday, June 24, 2011

Bukowski (sort of) for Toddlers

The Robot and the Bluebird by David Lucas is, as Publisher's Weekly pointed out, more apt to work on adults than on kids.  The story goes that a robot's mechanical heart is broken, and he lies despondent on a junk heap day and night.  It is here that in winter he meets a bluebird, struggling to fly south.  Of course he suggests that the bluebird live in the empty place where his heart used to be, and the robot uses his remaining strength to walk south to a more temperate climate.  Releasing the bluebird from his chest is his dying act, and his husk becomes a refuge for birds of all shapes, colors and sizes.

This story kind of pulled on my heartstrings.  Just a little bit.  I found out it's apt to appeal to dads more than moms when I read aloud the last page and my wife glared at the book with disgust.  Wyatt was indifferent to the book.  I seemed to be the only one upon whom the story was working.  "So he died?" my wife mouths over Wyatt's head.  I shake my head "yes."

In my mind the death and sacrifice in the story isn't any more extreme than The Giving Tree.  I suppose the robot makes this a guy book.  I suppose it may also have to do with the fact that I thought of "Bluebird" by Charles Bukowski, a very guy-macho poem, which probably won't be suitable bedtime reading until Wyatt's six.  Maybe seven.

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