Tuesday, March 19, 2019


Vaughan, M. M. Friendroid
March 26th 2019 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Danny has had trouble making friends at school, and prefers to hang out at home playing video games. His mother, a nurse, is supportive and worried, and while his father isn't in the picture, he does have an older cousin Vito who is there if he needs him. When he talks to the new boy, Eric, the two have some common ground, and slowly start spending more time together. Eric is a bit socially awkward, but has an uncle who sends him trendy clothes and gadgets, so he's friends with some of the more popular children. His parents are both obsessed with making friends and having the right possessions, and don't seem to be worried when Eric is seemingly gravely injured, which makes Danny's mom worried about him. She encourages him to spend more time with Eric, who is soon nicknamed "Slick" because of his preference for this brand of shoes. Slick tries to make Danny more popular, giving him clothes and helping him with his social media presence, and soon both boys are hanging out with the wealthy Ethan. After Slick passes out at a sleepover, his friends become concerned about him, and the truth comes out. Slick is really an android. With Vito's help, they start an investigation and try to figure out what is going on with Slick's life. This puts everyone, especially Slick, in danger, since he and his family are being used as surreptitious advertising by the evil Jeopardy corporation. Danny hopes that he can save his friend from the loneliness and lack of family he experiences, especially when he realizes that Slick's code is sometimes overwritten and false memories are put in place. Will he be able to help the only friend he has ever known?
Strengths: This is definitely a fresh premise-- androids living among us to sell us things by word of mouth? Fun! The ins and outs of popularity in middle school are realistically portrayed, and working in gaming and social media is timely. Danny is an interesting character, and seeing him warm up to Eric, who is very quirky, is heartwarming. As the book progresses, we get a bit more action and intrigue. Good use of drones as well!
Weaknesses: This switched perspectives in a slightly confusing way, and was ultimately a really sad book!
What I really think: I'm debating this one. On the one hand, having a friend who is an android will appeal to middle grade readers, but there is a lack of FUN things that would come from having a friend who was an android. This was also a bit on the long side.

The Magical Unicorn Society Official Handbook
Selwyn E. Phipps (Illustrations), Helen Dardik (Illustrations), Harry Goldhawk (Illustrations), Zanna Goldhawk (Illustrations)
September 18th 2018 by Feiwel & Friends
Public Library copy

The running joke at my school is that I am a Magical Unicorn. This is how I can do everything I do-- read a lot, remember students' names, fix all technology. I did have students ask about unicorn books in a recent survey, and I had to look at this one from the public library.

I think I'll buy it. It's really gorgeous, with beautiful illustrations in lovely colors. It breaks unicorns down into different types depending on where they live, and discusses habitats and eating habits. It's much more serious than Stuff Unicorns Love; it seems unlikely to me that unicorns would eat so much sugar!

Readers who love the different types of dragons in Tui Sutherland's Wings of Fire series will adore this short, well illustrated tome. In fact, they may need a copy for themselves.

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