Saturday, April 20, 2019

Looking for Love: Love, Z by Jessie Sima

A little robot named Z goes out one day hunting for adventure and finds a message in a bottle. All that is still legible on the letter are two words.


Little Z doesn't have a clue what "love" means and who or what "Beatrice" might be, but they sound important. At bedtime he asks his family of rusty robots, as they sweetly tuck him in to bed with a story and a clanky kiss. They can only say...

But Z cannot leave the question unanswered. Setting out on a quest, he spots a sturdy sailboat with a kitty for a captain.
"Hello, I am looking for Beatrice. I am looking for what love is, and she will have the answer."

But as they sail on, nobody has a clue.
"What's a Beatrice?"

But everyone has a different definition of what love is. The crow says its sharing delicious food--even if you want it for yourself. Kids playing in the park all have their own ideas. One says it's butterflies. One says it's a million puppies, and another thinks of snowflakes on his tongue.

All of these don't really compute for Z either. Beatrice must be the only one who knows. He has to find her. Z and Kitty Captain sail on until, weary, they spot a small island with a cozy house. They disembark and knock at the friendly-looking blue door. A woman opens it.
"Hello. I'm Beatrice," she says.

She brings Z and Kitty in beside the fire and Z explains the object of their mission. Beatrice says she has to think about that query, so she does, while she offers fresh baked cookies, plays a game of checkers with Z, and they dance to her old Victrola. At last she explains.

"You'll know it when you feel it,"

Z is unsure what to make of her answer, but as he prepares to power down, there's a sudden knock at Beatrice's door.

It's Z's whole family of old rusty robots who've been searching for him, bringing his favorite bedtime story, his night-light, and good-night kisses from all, and at last Z has a feeling that does compute, in Jessie Sima's Love, Z Simon and Schuster, 2018).  A sweet story in which Z goes looking for love in all the right places, Sima's soft and simple illustrations extend the storytelling, right down to Z and the rusty robots shoving off for home, leaving Kitty and his flotsam bottle, tagged "Love, Z" with Beatrice. Sima's other books include Not Quite Narwhal, smf Harriet Gets Carried Away (read reviews here).

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