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I read lots of picture books that retell or mash up fairy tale, but it’s wonderful to find a fairy tale that feels brand new. The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess by Tom Gauld combines a classic style with more modern sensibilities (read: no wolves or witches try to eat anyone). It reminds me a bit of Hansel and Gretel, but only in the sense that it’s a story of a brother and sister trying to protect each other.

The Story

A king and queen long for children. One visits an inventor and winds up with a wooden robot. The other visits a kind witch and receives a princess who becomes a log each time she sleeps. They live happily together until a maid accidentally tosses the princess from the window in her log form. Her brother, the wooden robot, will do anything to get her back.

What I loved

Sibling relationship–Sure they’re both made of wood, but these siblings love each other. Their heroic actions show it. The wooden robot even apologizes to the log princess. (It was partly his fault she was thrown from the window in the first place.) We need more picture books with sweet sibling stories like this.

World building–You don’t have a lot of time to world build in a picture book, but somehow this one does. One of the best bits is, on the way home, each sibling goes through a page with six named (but not explained other than a picture) adventures. I think kids’ imaginations will take off imagining the stories behind those snippets.

Parents should know

There is a good witch. So if you want your stories to have more traditional fairy tale roles, this may not be for you.

The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess is a charming story of sibling love, self-sacrifice, serendipity, and kindness repaid. It’s certainly a happily ever after fairy tale.

If you enjoy picture books, make sure to check out my list of 15 Contemporary Picture Books to Read and Re-Read.

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