Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A Boy and His Bot

Wilson, Daniel H. A Boy and His Bot.
On a school field trip to the place where his beloved grandfather mysteriously disappeared, Code Lightfall spots a metallic bee and is sucked into the alternative universe of Mekhos where all of the creatures are robots and his grandfather is the king. The problem? His grandfather's body has been taken over by an evil robot, Immortalis, who is instructing all of the robots to report for self-destruction. Once they are all destroyed, the portal between our world and Mekhos will reopen and Immortalis may wreak havoc on Earth! Code must travel to the main city where the self destruction will occur and find the Robonomicon manual in order to stop it. He meets several robots along the way who help him, but is beset by many more who wish him harm. Will he manage to avert destruction, and more importantly, will he be able to save his grandfather?
Strengths: Short, action packed science fiction with lots of great robots. Dr. Wilson has his PhD in robotics, and I really, really want to read his Where's my jetpack? : a guide to the amazing science fiction future that never arrived as well as How to Build a Robot Army and How to Survive a Robot Uprising. The SRA reading kits promised that there would be jet packs, as well as self-driving hover cars, and I want mine now!
Weaknesses: I was greatly distracted by the Wizard of Oz parallels in the story, and felt that I was missing a ton of literary illusions. I don't think the students will mind. The plot was also somewhat harder to follow because
of the anecdotal appearances of so many different types of robots, but given the dearth of good middle grade science fiction, I'll have to buy this.

Barrett, Tracey. Cold in Summer. (2003)
Ariadne is not happy with the move that her family has made from Florida to Tennessee, but she quickly makes some friends at school and also May, who seems to be homeschooled and comes and goes awfully quickly. The town where Ariadne lives has a large lake that was part of TVA projects that is over a flooded town. (Like in Westlake's Drowned Hopes!)As part of a school project, Ariadne starts researching the town, interviewing the former residents, and finds out that May was a girl who disappeared years ago and who has haunted young girls ever since. Can Aridane solve the mystery and put May's spirit to rest?
Strengths: Very Betty Ren Wright-esque, or like some Mary Downing Hahn. Slightly creepy but not scary, nice history, generally good.
Weaknesses: Don't know how I missed this title, but it's still in print.


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