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Weird little robots
2019
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Invited to join a secret science club, a 9-year-old engineering enthusiast faces a difficult choice when the tiny robots she has created out of loneliness unexpectedly come to life. A first novel by the author of Henry and the Crazed Chicken Pirates. Simutaneous eBook. Illustrations. - (Baker & Taylor)

When two science-savvy girls create an entire robot world, they don&;t expect the robots to come alive. But life may be a bit more magical than they thought.

Eleven-year-old Penny Rose has just moved to a new town, and so far the robots she builds herself are her only company. But with just a bit of magic, everything changes: she becomes best friends with Lark, has the chance to join a secret science club, and discovers that her robots are alive. Penny Rose hardly remembers how lonely she used to feel. But then a fateful misstep forces her to choose between the best friend she&;s always hoped for and the club she&;s always dreamed of, and in the end it may be her beloved little robots that pay the price. Quirky and wonderful, this illustrated chapter book from Carolyn Crimi and Corinna Luyken shows that making your own space and a true friend in the world is a kind of magic all its own. - (Random House, Inc.)

Author Biography

Carolyn Crimi is the author of several books for children, including Where&;s My Mummy?, Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies, Henry and the Crazed Chicken Pirates, and There Might Be Lobsters. Weird Little Robots is her first novel. She lives in Illinois.

Corinna Luyken is the author-illustrator of The Book of Mistakes. She lives with her husband and daughter in Olympia, Washington. - (Random House, Inc.)

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Trade Reviews

Booklist Reviews

Eleven-year-old Penny Rose loves creating little robots from discarded bits and pieces. She creates Sharpie from dentures, iPam from a cell phone, and Fraction from a calculator. Still, she's lonely. When she overcomes her shyness and befriends Lark, they share a fascination with science and with making things. Soon they also share a remarkable secret: the robots are alive! At school, Penny Rose receives cryptic messages from the Secret Science Society, which she hopes to join, though she's not allowed to discuss it—even with Lark. The resulting rift in their friendship leaves Penny Rose lonelier than ever until she finds a way to make things right. The author of many picture books, Crimi offers a heartfelt first novel that combines real-world problems faced by many children with magical elements. Clear, concise, and direct, the writing includes dialogue that shows the characters' personalities while moving the story along. Each chapter includes at least one full-page illustration. Created in ink, pencil, and gouache, they portray human, robot, and animal characters expressively. An endearing chapter book. Grades 3-6. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

A science-loving 11-year-old moves to a new neighborhood and entertains herself by making robots out of found objects while wishing for real friends. Penny Rose Mooney, daughter of an entomologist and a banker, eventually finds a soul mate in neighbor Lark Hinkle, a bird-watcher and birdhouse maker. Penny struggles with social interactions in ways that are suggestive of high-functioning autism-spectrum challenges and keeps several notebooks, including her most secret one—Conversation Starters. The girls team up to make roboTown, a metropolis of lights and discarded items cleverly reused. Their newfound friendship is tested when Penny, a statewide science-competition winner, is asked to join the Secret Science Society, leading her to break a promise made in their joint proclamation agreement. The two main girl characters are white; race and ethnicity are less clear for the other characters. A key boy character is immature, poorly behaved, and ultimately ridiculed. Otherwise, however, picture-book author Crimi infuses this unassuming transitional novel with compassion, humor, and a refreshing storyline in which girls o rganically weave a love for science into their everyday lives. Illustrations by Luyken add to the guileless sensibility. A contemplation on the magic of friendship told with sweetness, simplicity, and science. (Fiction. 8-11) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

This quirkily inventive middle grade debut by Crimi (I Am the Boss of This Chair) introduces Penny Rose, a shy 11-year-old who has made no friends in her new town. She spends most of her time alone in the backyard shed creating miniature robots out of "odd items that pleased her," including a meat thermometer, a cellphone, and a marble. Spying on Lark, an eccentric classmate and neighbor, Penny Rose discovers the girl's collection of handmade birdhouses, decorated with objects that birds drop in her yard, and recognizes a kindred spirit who "couldn't resist making something from nothing, either." At Lark's suggestion, the two repurpose items to build the robots a town in the shed, after which Penny Rose's robotic creations spring to life. Into this magical plot strand Crimi capably weaves a real-life quandary that jeopardizes the girls' friendship: when Penny Rose is invited to try out for the Secret Science Society, she breaks her vow of secrecy with Lark and shares her robots with the members—the popular kids at school—to prove her scientific acumen. In affecting illustrations, Luyken (The Book of Mistakes) successfully captures the heroines' likable sincerity, ingenuity, and mutual affection, as well as the robots' spunky personalities. Ages 8–12. Author's agent: Danielle Smith, Red Fox Literary. Illustrator's agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

This quirkily inventive middle grade debut by Crimi (I Am the Boss of This Chair) introduces Penny Rose, a shy 11-year-old who has made no friends in her new town. She spends most of her time alone in the backyard shed creating miniature robots out of "odd items that pleased her," including a meat thermometer, a cellphone, and a marble. Spying on Lark, an eccentric classmate and neighbor, Penny Rose discovers the girl's collection of handmade birdhouses, decorated with objects that birds drop in her yard, and recognizes a kindred spirit who "couldn't resist making something from nothing, either." At Lark's suggestion, the two repurpose items to build the robots a town in the shed, after which Penny Rose's robotic creations spring to life. Into this magical plot strand Crimi capably weaves a real-life quandary that jeopardizes the girls' friendship: when Penny Rose is invited to try out for the Secret Science Society, she breaks her vow of secrecy with Lark and shares her robots with the members—the popular kids at school—to prove her scientific acumen. In affecting illustrations, Luyken (The Book of Mistakes) successfully captures the heroines' likable sincerity, ingenuity, and mutual affection, as well as the robots' spunky personalities. Ages 8–12. Author's agent: Danielle Smith, Red Fox Literary. Illustrator's agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 3–5—Eleven-year-old Penny Rose's new home is a bit lonely. She appreciates her kind and loving parents, but she doesn't have any friends yet. She makes a wish while she's working on building robots out of recycled materials and meets the girl who lives closest to her, Lark. Lark is kind of strange, but it turns out they have a lot more in common than Penny Rose thought. Lark likes to find materials and build birdhouses. When Lark sees Penny Rose's robots, they decide to build a Robotown for the robots. Then the robots come to life. The girls agree that no one else should know about this, but when Penny Rose gets an invitation to join a secret science club, she's intrigued enough to show the club members the robots. When Lark realizes what Penny Rose has done, she feels betrayed. This book is an unusual combination of modern technology and fairy tales. The language feels old-fashioned even though the subject matter is current. The friendship theme and connections to technology, persistence, and problem-solving will appeal to a variety of students, though the artwork depicts all characters as white. VERDICT This would be a solid addition to an elementary library that wants to add books about STEAM or friendship.—Debbie Tanner, S D Spady Montessori Elementary, FL

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.

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