Exploring The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess

Fairy tales can play a powerful role in children’s lives. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen has morphed into the popular Frozen movie, which explores identity, community, and values. The way that Goldilocks behaves in the three bears’ home raises questions about similar themes. And the traditional story of Cinderella has generated numerous retellings (Cinderfella, Ella Enchanted, Ever After) that attempt to reframe the gender and cultural norms of the original.

Enter The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess, a contemporary fairy tale written and illustrated by Tom Gauld. It contains many of the usual elements of a traditional story: a king and queen, a castle, a witch, and lots of magic. Read it with children ages 3-8 and use one or more of the following activities to explore family relationships, forgiveness, and other spiritual themes.

Becoming a family. The royal family is unconventional. The prince is the work of a skilled inventor and the princess the result of a witch’s magic. Invite children to talk about their own families. Ask: Who is part of your family? How did they become part of your family? How did you join your family? Affirm that children can become part of a family in many ways: birth, surrogacy, fostering, adoption, guardianship, etc.

Sibling love. The robot and the princess are very close. They try to take care of each other and are willing to face challenges along the way. Return to the page that shows the robot’s six adventures as he looks for his sister. Encourage children to create and act out stories related to the prompts, keeping in mind that the robot is determined to find the princess. Then turn to the page that shows the princess’s six adventures as she tries to wheel her brother home. Create and act out more stories, this time remembering that the princess is determined to help her brother get home.

Finding forgiveness. The robot feels selfish because he forgot to wake his sister and upset that she is gone. He asks for forgiveness and receives it. Invite children to think about a time that they did something hurtful to someone else. Encourage them to close their eyes and remember how they felt. Then, with their eyes still closed, say: Imagine the person you hurt says that they forgive you. How do you feel now? What do you want to say to them? Complete your time of reflection by taking two slow, deep breaths in and out and opening your eyes.

Asking for help. When the beetles realize that the robot and the princess are stuck in the forest, they ask lots of animals and the witch to help them rescue the siblings. Working together, they succeed in returning the children to the castle. Invite children to imagine something difficult that they might need to do, like finding a lost pet, dealing with an annoying sibling, or comforting a friend whose grandparent has died. Create a diagram or graphic image that shows all the possible people and things that might help them accomplish their imagined task. For example, putting up posters, asking neighbors to help search, and requesting a hug might be some helpful things when a pet is lost.



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