MG Takes on Thursday – TrooFriend Kirsty Applebaum


#MGTakesOnThursday is a weekly feature from Mary at BookCraic to celebrate the love for Middle Grade Books! The steps to take part are here.

TrooFriend- Kirsty Applebaum (Nosy Crow 2020)

Troofriend Kirsty Applebaum
Cover Art by Sam Kalda

Good evening. The temperature is exactly average for 7.14 p.m. on Sunday 7th of June in Brylington

Sentence from page 11

Robots, ‘Real’, Friendship

I normally don’t do a second post on a day that I am taking part in a blog tour because I like to focus attention on the book being feted. However, my gut tells me that this time the parallels of the books compliment the Blog Tour completely and show how the concepts explored in an old Italian story still has worth and relevance in the modern world.

Troofriend and Pinocchio on the outside don’t look like books with parallel concepts but they both explore what it means to be human, and the struggles undertaken to understand what it means to be alive and the tenacity of the question of the human condition. It’s just that these stories written over 135 years apart reflect the time they were written in and the changing nature of how we write for children.

A Mischievous & idle wooden puppet to remind children to work hard, study and be thoughtful people compared with Robot Friends turning a lens on the way adults desire to insulate our children against negativity not recognising these negative interactions are part of our own complex nature. Both writers use contemporarily relevant ‘inanimate’ objects to communicate their thinking on the human condition, which may of course be different on both levels!

Kirsty is a phenomenally good writer, seemingly relishing the challenge to breathe new life and horizons into genres that are not always the first to be picked up, instead manipulating and moulding them into something quite new, challenging, hungry and begs to be read and discussed.

Kirsty manages to shapeshift her prose to suit her story whether the dissatisfied The Middler in a dystopian yet village setting or a sentient Robot here in Troofriend. The narrative is sharp, efficient, sparse to reflect the robotic efficiency, yet still Kirsty gets us to invest in and care for this robot girl struggling with the same that readers will experience, the double standards of social behaviour, the minefield of female friendship and the way that adults willingly or not underestimate children. 

This quiet warmth and growing resonance turns what could have been a cold and chipped narrative into something not quite hopeful, but certainly deep and opens the door to the reader to think outside their own experience whether this is their family, friends, or someone neurodiverse as all still with all the kaleidoscopic spectrum of emotions, fears and dreams as our own: a cognitive development that begins across the average age group of middle grade readers. 

I go more into the AI ethics and sentience question in my original review, but in respect to the links between TrooFriend and The Adventures of Pinocchio they both explore the yearning to be human, whatever it is all about anyway and despite all the messy, and negative bits about it, isn’t it a wonder and blessing that we are alive. 

Check out my review for more.

Have you read this book or do you think you will give it a go?

2 thoughts on “MG Takes on Thursday – TrooFriend Kirsty Applebaum

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