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A robot with great humanity

February 20, 2017

MADELEINE BURBIDGE

PB template BCThere are billions of great stories. But when I find one that stirs me, that sings in my heart, that reminds me of all that is good about life and humanity, it’s like finding a stretch of rare orchids on a walk in the countryside while holding the hand of my child.

I found David Lucas’s extraordinarily beautiful and poetic book, ‘The Robot and the Bluebird’ at a robotics exhibition while in Chicago in the summer of 2015. My son (three years old at the time) and I immediately fell in love with Lucas’s story and it remains one of our favourite picture books.

‘The Robot and the Bluebird’ tells the tale of a robot who, because his heart is broken and cannot be mended, is dismissed to a rubbish tip and left to rust. One bitterly cold day, a migrating bluebird lands on his shoulder. The robot tells the bluebird: “… you don’t want to stay here. I’m rubbish”. But then, the robot makes a nest of wires for the exhausted bird in the place where his heart used to be, and the robot immediately feels as though he has a “living, beating heart”.

Then comes the most exquisite passage of the book. In the morning, the robot opens the door to his heart and the bird sings on his metal chest.

“My old heart only ever said ticktock,” said the Robot, “but now my heart is singing.” And the bluebird flew a little way up into the air, and the Robot felt like his heart was flying.

The care of others and selflessness are ultimately what brings us humans joy. Without giving and showing love and kindness, we are empty and alone. It is not a depressing, bleak viewpoint but a universal truth that the younger we understand, the better human being we can try to become.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2017 3:03 pm

    Yes it is a beautiful book. But my favourite book by David Lucas is the Skeleton Pirate. I took a workshop with him and he was amazing. Sunita

  2. February 21, 2017 10:05 am

    I very much agree with last paragraph, especially as we’re living in the age of the individual.
    Many of us know David Lucas from his time with IWFC – he brought a draft of Halibut Jackson to read at one stage.

  3. Rachel Summerson permalink
    February 21, 2017 11:16 pm

    What an enchanting book. I can quite understand why your son loved it.

  4. Alison Allen-Gray permalink
    February 23, 2017 10:31 am

    Thank you for this recommendation, Madeleine. It just so happens that a baby was born to one of our close friends this week, so this will make a wonderful ‘welcome to the world’ present. David used to belong to Islington Writers for Children and I’ve bought several of his books over the years – all lovely.

  5. Buzz About Books permalink*
    March 11, 2017 12:01 pm

    I want to say what a beautifully written review this is. If my name was David Lucas I think I’d want to frame it and hang it on my wall of fame.

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