A lonely dog wants a friend, so he buys and builds a robot. This is the beginning of Sara Varon’s exceptional graphic novel Robot Dreams. The dog and the robot have great adventures together, but when they go to the beach one day the robot goes into the water and then rusts in the sun. Unable to move him from the beach, the dog leaves him there. Soon the dog regrets abandoning his friend, but when he returns to the beach it’s too late: it has been closed for the season. Months pass and the dog tries to make new friends, regretting his lost robot and unable to find the same friendship with others. The robot lies immobilized on the beach, daydreaming about what would have happened if he hadn’t gone swimming, if he was rescued, if he could dig down through the sand and free himself. The dog and the robot learn a lot about themselves and about friendship, and the ending is incredibly sad, hopeful, and happy all at the same time.

Reviews of this book describe it as a “nearly wordless graphic novel” (August 2007 Booklist). The absence of any dialogue or prose make this story feel incredibly profound and poignant. The robot is full of regret for giving in to peer pressure. The dog is full of regret for abandoning his friend so readily. I absolutely loved it, and I think kids of all ages would treasure it.