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The Wild Robot Escapes
By Peter Brown
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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around March 13, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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Shipwrecked on a remote, wild island, Robot Roz learned from the unwelcoming animal inhabitants and adapted to her surroundings–but can she survive the challenges of the civilized world and find her way home to Brightbill and the island?
From bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator Peter Brown comes a heartwarming and action-packed sequel to his New York Times bestselling The Wild Robot,about what happens when nature and technology collide.
Our story begins in a city, with buildings and streets and bridges and parks. Humans were strolling, automobiles were driving, airships were flying, robots were hard at work.
Weaving through the city streets was a delivery truck. The truck knew where to go, and how to get there, all by itself. It pulled up to a construction site and automatically unloaded some crates. A few more turns and it unloaded more crates down at the docks. The truck
across the city, delivering crates as it went, and then it merged onto a highway.
Cars and buses and trucks were cruising along the highway together. But as the delivery truck continued, the traffic became lighter, the buildings became smaller, and the landscape became greener.
With nothing but open road ahead, the truck accelerated to its top speed. The landscape outside was now just a green blur, occasionally broken by a flicker of gray as a town flew past. On and on the delivery truck went, racing over long bridges, shooting through mountain tunnels, gliding down straight stretches of highway, until it started to slow. It drifted from the fast lane to the exit lane, and then it rolled down a ramp and into farm country.
Clouds of dust billowed up behind the truck as it drove past fields and fences. In the hazy distance, enormous barns loomed above the plains. The air was thick with the smells of soil and livestock. Robot crews methodically worked the crops and fed the animals and operated the massive farm machines.
A hill gradually climbed into view. The hill was crowned with trees and white buildings. Another farm. But this one was smaller and shabbier than the rest. Out front was a crooked sign that read Hilltop Farm.
Wheels crunched on gravel as the delivery truck rolled onto the driveway and up to the top of the hill. It stopped beside the front porch of the farmhouse and dropped its last crate to the ground. Then the truck drove away.
Reader, can you guess what was tightly packed inside that crate? If you guessed a robot, you’re correct. But this was no ordinary robot. It was ROZZUM unit 7134. You might remember her old life on a remote, wild island. Well, Roz’s new life was just about to begin.
Woof! Woof! Woof!
Inside the farmhouse, a dog was barking and scraping at the front door. When the door finally opened, the dog scurried out and bounced down the porch steps. And then a man appeared.
The man walked with a limp, and slowly made his way down to the crate, where his dog was sniffing around. He unlatched the top of the crate and it swung open on its hinges. Packing foam was tossed aside, restraining cords were unfastened, and there was ROZZUM unit 7134. Her lifeless body sparkled in the late-day sun.
The man reached down and pressed an important little button on the back of the robot’s head.
The robot’s computer brain booted up and her programs began coming online. Then she automatically stood, stepped out of her crate, and started to speak.
“Hello, I am ROZZUM unit 7134, but you may call me Roz. While my robotic systems are activating, I will tell you about myself.
“Once fully activated, I will be able to move and communicate and learn. Simply give me a task and I will complete it. Over time, I will find better ways of completing my tasks. I will become a better robot. When I am not needed, I will stay out of the way and keep myself in good working order.
“Thank you for your time.
“I am now fully activated.”
“Welcome to Hilltop Farm, Roz. My name is Mr. Shareef. You belong to me now.”
Roz studied the man with her softly glowing eyes and in a robotic voice she said, “Hello, Mr. Shareef.”
“This old fella here is Oscar.” Mr. Shareef scratched his dog’s head. “You won’t see much of him. Oscar spends most of his time sleeping in the house.”
“Hello, Oscar,” said the robot.
A goofy grin stretched across the dog’s face and he let out a happy yelp.
Mr. Shareef pulled a small computer from his pocket. He tapped the screen and brought up a map of Hilltop Farm. “There you are, Roz,” he said as the robot’s electronic signal appeared on the map. “You’ll be working all over this farm. And now that you’re in the system I can always see right where you are.”
“What would you like me to do?” said Roz.
“You can start by putting your crate in the garage over there. I’ll hold on to it, in case I ever have to send you back to the factory.”
Clearly, Roz was designed to take orders, because her body automatically did as it was told. She stuffed the packing materials into her crate and carried it into the garage.
When Roz returned, Mr. Shareef was watching a school bus winding along the country road. Oscar barked and dashed off as the bus came to a stop at the bottom of the driveway. A girl and a boy jumped out, and the bus drove on. In their matching school uniforms, the children looked almost identical. But the boy was a little taller, and the girl’s hair was a little longer. They meandered up the driveway and romped around with their dog until they noticed Roz.
“A robot!” said the girl, running up.
“It’s about time we got one,” said the boy.
“She’s refurbished,” said the man. “She’s the cheapest one I could find, but she’ll make a decent farmer.”
“What’s her name?” said the girl.
“She said her name’s Roz.”
“That’s just her starter name,” said the boy. “We can give her any name we want. Let’s call her… Farmbot!”
“I kind of like the name Roz,” said the girl.
“Me too,” said Mr. Shareef. “Let’s leave her name as it is. Roz, I’d like you to meet my daughter, Jaya, and my son, Jad.”
“Hello, Jaya and Jad,” said the robot.
The children looked at each other and smiled.
“Will Roz take orders from me?” asked Jad.
“What about me?” asked Jaya.
“She’ll take orders from both of you.”
“Roz, I order you to do my homework!” said Jaya.
“Don’t waste her time with nonsense!” Mr. Shareef grumbled. “Roz is here to do farmwork, not homework, understand?”
The children nodded.
“Now, I order you kids to bring the dog inside and do your own homework,” said Mr. Shareef. “I need to show Roz the farm.”
Mr. Shareef turned and shouted, “Come here, Rambler!” A moment later, a pickup truck automatically rolled out from the garage. The truck pulled up to the man and the robot, its doors opened wide, and they both climbed in.
Rambler had a steering wheel, but Mr. Shareef sat back and let the truck drive itself. They followed the driveway behind the house, across the backyard, past trees and hedges, and suddenly they were surrounded by farm buildings. The buildings were different sizes and shapes, all white walls with gray roofs, and they were so tightly packed together that you could hardly tell where one building ended and the next one began. Some were spattered with mud. Others had holes and loose boards. The entire place smelled like grass and manure.
Mr. Shareef pointed out each building to Roz. There was the enormous dairy barn, the milking parlor, the workshop, the machine shed. Smaller sheds were scattered all around.
Rambler drove out from the buildings and down the back side of the hill into a wide sweep of farmland. A fence lined this part of the driveway, and behind the fence was a sprawling, rolling pasture, lush with tall grass and a few leafy trees, where a herd of cows was grazing. The cows swished their tails and chewed their cud and followed the truck with their eyes. One of them let out a long “Moooooo.”
“This is a dairy farm,” said Mr. Shareef, “so these cows are the queens around here. Your whole world now revolves around them. Understand?”
“I understand,” said Roz as she stared at a young calf who was staring right back at her.
They rolled past the herd of cows, past clumps of wildflowers, past a quiet pond, past birds and field mice and bumblebees. The driveway cut through a row of trees on its way out to the crop fields, which were flat and square and covered with bright green sprouts.
Hilltop Farm was bursting with life, but it had seen better days. Patches of weeds and bare dirt were spreading across the fields. Broken-down farm machines and piles of junk were strewn across the grounds. Thick tangles of brush were creeping in from the edges of the property.
They drove all the way out to the farthest fields, to a little roundabout at the very end of the driveway. Rambler shut off its engine, and the man and the robot sat and looked at the countryside.
Far off, where the land met the sky, a train quietly slid along its tracks and disappeared to the north. Then all was still.
“This farm needs help,” said Mr. Shareef at last. “It’s been in my family for generations and I don’t want to lose it. But I can’t do farmwork anymore, not with this bad leg. That’s why you’re here. They say ROZZUM robots can learn to do almost every kind of job. And you’ll have to do almost every kind of job on this farm.”
“I understand,” said Roz.
“We’ve had automachines for ages,” Mr. Shareef went on, “but we didn’t need a robot until my wife died.”
Those last words hung in the air for a while.
The silence was finally broken by a low rumble of thunder. A storm was approaching. Tornado season was still months away—but in farm country any storm could become dangerous.
“Let’s go home,” said Mr. Shareef.
Rambler started its engine and drove back up the long driveway. By the time they reached the farm buildings, a steady rain was falling, and the cows were in the barn.
“This is for you,” said Mr. Shareef, and he handed Roz her own computer. “That controls the farm’s equipment, and it’s got all the information you’ll need to work here. Do you know how to use a computer?”
“Yes, I know how to use a computer.” Roz had never used a computer before, but she instinctively knew what to do. Clearly, the robot was designed to work with technology.
“Study up tonight, and start farming tomorrow,” said Mr. Shareef. “You can stay in the machine shed with the other machines.”
“Perhaps I should stay in the barn with the cows,” said Roz. “My whole world now revolves around them.”
The man smirked, and he said, “I like the way you think, Roz.”
The cows were munching hay in their stalls when the big barn door slid open and a mechanical monster stomped in from the rain. The creature marched down the center aisle, her footsteps echoing through the cavernous space, until she found an empty corner. And there she stood, in the shadows, as a storm began to rage outside.
Everybody listened as the rain poured and the wind howled and the thunder cracked. By midnight, the storm had blown over, and there was only a gentle sprinkling on the roof. But the herd couldn’t rest with that monster lurking in the corner. Cows began quietly mooing to each other.
“What is the monster doing?”
“She hasn’t moved in hours.”
“I bet she’s waiting to eat us in our sleep!”
The cows gasped at this horrible thought. And then an old cow named Annabelle tried to calm down the herd. “Relax, everyone,” she said. “There were monsters like this at my last farm, and they never ate any cows. Come to think of it, they never ate anything at all.”
“If this monster has never eaten anything at all, she must be awfully hungry by now!” said a cow named Tess.
“I saw the farmer driving the monster around in his truck,” said a calf named Lily. “I don’t think he would have done that if she were dangerous.”
Nobody knew quite what to think of the strange creature in their midst.
“I think the monster is harmless.”
“I think the monster is unnatural!”
“I think the monster is moving!”
The herd fell silent as the monster marched out from the shadows and into the middle of the barn. And then the monster did the impossible. She did the unthinkable. She spoke to the cows in the language of the animals.
“I am not a monster, I am a robot. My name is Roz.”
THE ROBOT’S STORY
None of the cows could believe that this monster, this robot, this machine, had just spoken to them in the animal language. They stared at her, nervously shifting in their stalls, wondering what she would do next.
What Roz did next was simple. She told the truth. She stood in the middle of the barn and shared her story with the herd.
“I spent my first year of life on a remote, wild island,” Roz began. “I did not know how I got there, I only knew that I wanted to survive. So I studied the island animals, to see how they survived, and a surprising thing happened. Their sounds and movements started making sense to me. I was learning the language of the animals.
“Even when I could speak to them, the animals wanted nothing to do with me. But that changed when I discovered an orphaned gosling. The poor little thing would have died on his own, so I cared for him, and adopted him as my son. His name is Brightbill.”
A murmur spread through the herd.
“When the animals saw me caring for Brightbill, they finally accepted me. I was no longer alone. I had friends and a family and a home. Life was good.
“Until the RECO robots arrived. They came in their sleek white airship to take me away, and when I resisted, they became violent. The animals defended me—they fought bravely and destroyed the RECOs. But I was badly damaged in the fighting. I needed repairs, and I could not get them on the island. So the animals loaded my broken body into the airship, and it took me far away from my home.”
Lily the calf poked her head through the railing and said, “What about Brightbill?”
“My son is smart and tough, and he has a good flock,” said Roz. “I think he will be okay without me.”
“Where were you taken?” said Tess.
“I was taken back to the factory where I was made. The factory is run by a crew of robot workers called the Makers. When I arrived, they put me in a room filled with other broken robots. Some robots were completely ruined, and the Makers immediately sent them away. But those of us with working computer brains were given a test.”
“What kind of test?” said Lily.
“The Makers simply asked us questions. They asked us how we had become damaged. They asked us how we would respond to different emergencies. They asked us to identify certain sounds and smells and objects. Robots who answered every question correctly were repaired. All others were destroyed.
“In the wilderness, I camouflaged my body to survive. In the robot factory I camouflaged my personality to survive. I pretended to be a perfectly normal robot. I did not say that I had adopted a goose, or that I could speak with animals, or that I had resisted the RECOs. I said what I had to say to pass the test. And it worked.”
“Good for you, Roz!” shouted Tess, and the other cows smiled.
“The Makers shut me off, and when I awoke, my body was fixed and I was on this farm. Now, like all of you, I belong to Mr. Shareef.”
The cows stopped smiling.
Everyone was quiet.
And then old Annabelle spoke up.
“I was taken from my friends and family too,” she said. “They’re back on the farm where I was born. I still think about them every day.”
“It is difficult to be apart from our loved ones,” said the robot.
“You know, Roz, things could be worse,” said Tess. “At least on this farm you’re still surrounded by nature.”
“Yes, things could be worse.” The robot’s eyes brightened a little. “But I am not safe here. If any human ever learns who I really am, they will have me destroyed. And that is why, when the time is right, I will try to escape.”
Inside the barn, the lights were low, the sounds were hushed, the night slowly wore on. A few cows were chewing hay, but most were resting peacefully. Our robot had returned to her corner. The soft glow of the computer screen lit up her face as she studied farming. She learned about the herd, about the pasture and the fields, about the native plants and wildlife, about the seasons and the climate and the weather, about the machines and the buildings and the fences and the tools and all the dairy equipment. Every detail was perfectly remembered in the robot’s computer brain. And in a single night, Roz became a farmer.
THE FIRST DAY
At dawn, the cows began to stir. One by one, they walked out the side door, across the muddy barnyard, and into the parlor for a quick milking before heading down to the pasture. They followed the same routine, every morning, like clockwork. However, on this morning, the cows were joined by a robot.
With her computer brain full of farming knowledge, Roz was ready for her first day on the job. She stomped through the tall, wet grass, and her head slowly turned as she scanned the scenery.
The sun was rising.
The fog was lifting.
The cows were grazing.
And then the whole world seemed to flip upside down. Before Roz knew what was happening, she was on her back looking up at the sky. A strong stench filled the air. Our robot had slipped on cow dung.
The herd erupted into laughter. Tess called out, “Welcome to Hilltop Farm, Roz!” which brought another round of snorts and moos.
“You’ll have to get used to cow patties, and to laughter,” said old Annabelle, strolling over. “Not much happens around here, so we’re always eager to laugh.”
“I understand,” said Roz. “I like laughing too.” And she forced out an awkward “Ha-ha-haaa!” Then the robot stood up, wiped her feet, and continued exploring the farm. But she was more careful to watch where she stepped.
The fields and buildings and fences were all in need of Roz’s attention. But her most urgent task was to fix the broken farm machines.
A New York Times bestsellerA Wall Street Journal bestsellerA USA Today bestseller
- * "[A] stellar sequel... Warmth and gentleness court through the novel, even as dangers emerge."—Booklist, starred review
- * "Science fiction meets fantasy in this delightful sequel that gives readers a unique look into what technology could someday have in store. A must-buy for any middle grade collection."—School Library Journal, starred review
- "Provocatively contemplative."—Kirkus Reviews
- "Thought-provoking....Raises poignant quandaries about the nature of love and selfhood."—Publishers Weekly
- "Fans of the first book will be happy to see Roz returned to her true wildness."—The Bulletin
- On Sale
- Mar 13, 2018
- Page Count
- 288 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers