Friday, May 05, 2017

Bloomin' Bot Buddies! Norton and Alpha by Kristyna Litten

Norton was a collector. Battered wheels, rusty cogs, broken springs--they all found their way into Norton's collections.

But best of all were the things Norton didn't have a name for.

Norton is an automaton, a robot himself. So it's no surprise he goes for the techie mechanical stuff, the odder the better.

And one day he finds some that sparks his interest, something round with a coil of wire protruding at one end. He takes it back to his workshop and makes something different out of it. He calls his four-legged project Alpha.

Alpha becomes his constant companion, and Norton trains him to help search out more treasures in the trash--hula hoops, a wrench, a pipe--gems for a tinkerer robot.

But one day Norton and Alpha find something quite weird.

It's something red, sticking up out of the ground.

Norton didn't have a name for it, either.

It was unlike anything else they had ever seen before

With a bit of effort they plucked it from the ground... and set out on their way home.

But all of Norton's experiments fail to show what the strange red thing is. At last, stumped, Norton gives up and tosses it out of the window.

Bad weather follows, so Norton and Alpha stay in, catching up on chores around the workshop, But at last, a nice day comes, and they feel up for a treasure-collecting hunt. Norton oils all their moving parts, and the two venture outside.

And they see something else they have never seen before--colorful flowers everywhere, orange, pink, blue--just like the red thing Norton had thrown out! They were beautiful, Norton decided...

"... and that's all that really mattered."

In Kristyna Litten's new Norton and Alpha (Sterling, 2017), the author's two robots seem unlikely lovers of nature, but artist Litton changes their minds in a dazzling display of blooms which fill a four-page gatefold illustration that wins them over and entices them to pick enough to decorate their spartan quarters back home. Norton is a different sort of robot, but as Kirkus Reviews suggests, "[This is] "a quietly amusing fable that highlights the importance of nature in a mechanical world."

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