Monday, January 13, 2014

MMGM-- The Winter of the Robots

17080052Scaletta, Kurtis. The Winter of the Robots
October 8th 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers 

Jim and Oliver like to make robots for their school's science fair, and are debating what kind of robot and what the robot can destroy when Jim's neighbor, Rocky, asks him to help her with her project-- observing the otters near their homes, using security cameras "borrowed" from his father's business. Something odd keeps showing up on the security cameras, and when Dmitri, one of their classmates, goes missing and later shows up in the laundromat tased and frost bitten, they boys know that something is up. Making their plans at Pocket Burger, the group, along with Jim's sister, Penny, decide first to enter a robot demolition derby at the local mall-- with somewhat disastrous results. Then, they start to realize that things are VERY strange at the site of the destroyed Nomicon factory where Oliver's father worked... and was killed. Dinobots produced for military use are still working... and reprogramming themselves to build an even bigger and more deadly robot! Can the group stay out of trouble with parents and stop the Dinobots before they kill again?
Strengths: This was a very fun mystery, and I've had a lot of students ask for robot books. I love the Minnesota in winter setting, the older neighborhood near an industrial site, the Pocket Burger with its greasy warmth, the ensemble cast, and more robot details than I could possibly understand. Thoroughly enjoyed this and want to have a copy in my library right now. There is even a little bit of romance.
Weaknesses: Somehow, having the main character named Jim bothered me. Haven't had a Jim in school in ages, although currently have a Billy and a Bobby. Since I couldn't understand the robotics mentioned, I don't know if the programming, etc. is correct, but it did sound cool.

17740626 Kidd, Chip. Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design
Published October 8th 2013 by "Workman Publishing Company"

I am enthralled by the design of every day objects-- anything that makes today today and yesterday yesterday.  Clothing, packaging, furnishings, buildings, magazines-- I love thinking about what made things seem beautiful in 1978 but makes them so ugly now. Pantone colors of the year fascinate me. Graphic design is certainly something that children don't often think about, but they should, because they certainly react strongly to things like bad book covers. This book was a very fun overview of different elements of graphic design, and how design really changes the way we view things. I wish that everyone who ever had a hand in designing a book cover would read this! I don't know that this would get wide circulation in my library, but maybe the art teacher could use it, because I really want to buy it!

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday at Anastasia Suen's blog. Instead of having to visit lots of different blogs, all of the nonfiction posts will be at Nonfiction Monday!


  1. My sons would have loved The Winter of the Robots when they were younger. Funny, didn't there used to be Dinobots on the old Transformers cartoon? I'm sure my kids had some of those toys too.

    Loved your line about wishing everyone who has anything to do with designing book covers should read Chip Kidd's book! Looks fascinating, too.

  2. The Winter of the Robots sounds terrific. I think my grandson would like it. It's interesting to find a graphics art book for this age. Nice. Thanks for the reviews.

  3. Go looks like an interesting book. The Winter of the Robots, however, looks like a book that just the cover would've been scary to me when I was younger!