Little Robot

Little RobotLittle Robot
Written by: Ben Hatke
Illustrated by:
 Ben Hatke
Publisher: First Second
Format: Hardcover, 7 x 9, 144 pages, Full Color, $16.99
ISBN: 978-1-62672-080-0


I wasn't good at drawing or any other sort of art, so i decided to study it. As a result, I (once in a great-while) get the overwhelming desire to try to be an artist again. That desire come in full force whenever I read a graphic novel by Ben Hatke. He inspires me, not just as an artist but as a storyteller as well.


He tells the most endearing and admirable tales. With both words and images Hatke is able to do what I have only dreamt of doing. To tell stories people will remember in words and in art. Forever.

The title of one of his most recent stories, Little Robot, is a bit misleading. Little Robot's impact on a reader is not little. Little Robot is huge. I'll never forget it, for ever-so-cleverly Hatke hits on the age-old question of what to do if you ever encounter a mysterious, unknown button that begs to be pushed. Will you push it? Or will you leave it be?

Hatke's main character, Robot Girl, does what we all hope we would be brave enough to do. Push the darn button. And then partake in the results, of course.

Clever and charming, this middle grade graphic novel asks readers to think about the consequences of their thoughts and decisions, and, of course, the results that ensue. If I were a middle grade educator right now, as I used to be back in the day, I would pick this graphic novel up immediately and assign it to my students, for it garners discussion topics that gravitate around the ideas of individualism, community, coming-of-age, and cause-and-effect so critical to that age group.

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot(s): Robot Girl is tempted. She has found an intriguing robot-looking machine with a mysterious button, a button we have all wanted to push over the years. In her case, however, Robot Girl actually has the courage we have only marveled at. And she pushes the button.

The consequences that ensue garner more than just discussion. They garner an unforgettable story sure to last a lifetime with any reader destined to pick up this graphic novel.

Major Themes: Curiosity and Temptation, Cause and Effect, Friendship, Good and Evil, Loyalty

Common Core Standers for Reading Literature*

Key Ideas and Details:
Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.

*Because they encompass the goals and objectives outlined in the 4th - 8th grade middle level standards for reading literature the 8th grade reading literature standards are cited here.

Reading Lesson Idea for Language Arts Readers in Grades 4 - 8

Ben Hatke is a master of visual storytelling. His art is capable of reaching the deepest literary levels with little to no use of print-text words.

Because of Hatke's unique ability to tell the deepest of literary-level tales with artwork it is important for 21st century readers to be able to identify and comprehend the ways in which his visual storytelling can tell literary-level tales equivalent to those found in traditional, print-text novels.

In the below graphic organizer students are asked to choose a theme and then the Top 10 Best Thematic Images that tell the story of that theme in Little Robot.

Choose one of the following themes: Curiosity and Temptation, Cause and Effect, Friendship, Good and Evil, Loyalty

Next, choose the Top 10 Best Thematic Images that illustrate that theme in Little Robot and recreate them in the 10 provided spaces (being sure to list their page # and location on the page in the spaces provided).

Remember: You have only 10 spaces, 10 opportunities to show your reader the evolution of your theme in the story.




Little Robot Theme: _________________________________

Top 10 Best Thematic Images

















Page #: ______, Location on Page: ___________

















Page #: ______, Location on Page: ___________




















Page #: ______, Location on Page: ___________




















Page #: ______, Location on Page: ___________




















Page #: ______, Location on Page: ___________




















Page #: ______, Location on Page: ___________



















Page #: ______, Location on Page: ___________



















Page #: ______, Location on Page: ___________




















Page #: ______, Location on Page: ___________




















Page #: ______, Location on Page: ___________


Dr. Katie Monnin is an Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of North Florida. Besides the joy that comes with reading comic books and graphic novels, Dr. Monnin enjoys a Peter Pan-ish life of researching and writing her own books about teaching comics, graphic novels, and cartoons: Teaching Graphic Novels (2010), Teaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels (2011), Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning (2012), Teaching Reading Comprehension with Graphic Texts (2013), and Get Animated! Teaching 21st Century Early Reader and Young Adult Cartoons in Language Arts (2014); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts (2015). When she is not writing (or sitting around wondering how she ended up making an awesome career out of studying comics and graphic novels), Dr. Monnin spends her time with her three wiener dogs, Samantha, Max, and Alex Morgan Monnin.