London cartoonist Tom Gauld's The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess is a charming story about sibling loyalty featuring classic fairy-tale mainstays. It begins with an interracial royal couple lamenting their childlessness, after which the king asks the (female) royal inventor to create a child; meanwhile, the queen visits a witch in the woods for the same purpose. The inventor builds a wooden robot boy, the witch fashions a princess from a log, and the newfangled royal family is happy. When the princess goes missing, the robot boy goes to Augean lengths to find his sister. Readers who presume that the story will proceed as a one-sided rescue effort will be gleefully mistaken.
Drawn with pen and colored digitally, Gauld's art has exacting characterizations, sure-handed hatching and tidy layouts. The book also has a happy ending--the lone fairy-tale convention to which Gauld surrenders completely. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author