Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez already feels like the ultimate middle school outsider, but he feels even more remote after his techie mom sends him off to class with a very talented, homemade robot. The arrival of mechanical "E" proves to be a learning experience for all involved. An illustrated novel by mega-bestselling author James Patterson.
Patterson and Grabenstein, collaborators on the I Funny books, launch the House of Robots series, about Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez and his family, whose household brims with robots invented by his genius mother. Fifth-grader Sammy is mortified when his mother insists that E, her newest invention, accompany him to school. The comically disruptive robot—who Neufeld draws to resemble C-3PO crossed with a stereotypical geek—contradicts teachers, escalates a food fight, and sparks a fire after his feverish recitation of science facts overloads his circuit boards. Underlying the novel’s laughs are themes of friendship, compassion, and family, particularly in regard to Sammy’s devotion to his younger sister, who is housebound due to severe immunodeficiency, and his deepening relationship with his “bro-bot.” E’s disappearance interjects a splash of mystery into the story, while Neufeld’s (Treasure Hunters) raucous cartoons and comics sequences (not all seen by PW) amp up the comedy with slapstick action, metafictional gags, and lots of robo-gadgetry. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: (for Patterson) Robert Barnett and Deneen Howell, Williams & Connolly LLP; (for Grabenstein) Eric Myers, Spieler Agency. Illustrator’s agency: Shannon Associates. (Dec.)
Praise for House of Robots:
A #1 New York Times Bestseller
"Underlying the novel's laughs are themes of friendship, compassion, and family, particularly in regard to Sammy's devotion to his younger sister...and his deepening relationship with his 'bro-bot.'"Publishers Weekly
"A good fit for reluctant readers."CommonSenseMedia.org
Sammy is less than thrilled when his genius inventor mother creates a robot brother for him.Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez's life has always been filled with robots. His mother has invented automatons that clean the floors, mow the lawn, give traffic reports and even plant fantastic gardens. Sammy's school has until now been a robot-free zone, but when Mom invents E (for Egghead, or maybe Einstein Jr.—his parents can't decide) and insists Sammy take the new robot to school, things get out of hand. Chronicling the ups and downs of an entire school year with a robot brother, the authors put cute sci-fi twists on first-time crushes, school bullies and best-friend troubles. There's nothing here that breaks new ground or illuminates the psyche of young boys in any new or interesting ways, but there are plenty of amusing jokes. Young readers with an interest in science will certainly be engaged. A subplot featuring Sammy's younger sister, a brilliant girl who is homebound by severe combined immunodeficiency disorder, is as by-the-numbers as the rest of the book, but it doesn't tie in to the robot plot until the very end. It's hard to tell if this development is a clumsy climax or an awkward setup for a sequel. Either way, it doesn't work well with everything that came beforehand. A perfectly acceptable and predictable trifle. (Science fiction. 9-12)
Gr 3–6—Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez has never had an easy time fitting in at school. His mother is an inventor, his father is a graphic novel artist, and his beloved little sister has an immune condition that keeps her confined to the house. His best friend Trip has a talent for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. And then, there are the robots: a houseful of his mother's creations, programmed to do everything from housework to tutoring, plus some that don't do anything useful at all. When Sammy's mother insists that he take a robot named E to school with him, he knows that he's in for a record-breaking amount of teasing and trouble-and when E starts insisting that he is Sammy's brother, the situation goes from bad to worse. Sammy refuses to have anything to do with E at school, even when the robot's popularity starts to eclipse Sammy's and Trip's. But when E is kidnapped, Sammy realizes that he was starting to get fond of his robot brother, and he teams up with friends (both human and robot) to solve the mystery of E's disappearance. This light and funny story incorporates plenty of humor, both in the text and in the accompanying comic-style illustrations. Sammy's relationships with his parents, sister, and best friend are strong, if not particularly nuanced. A fast-moving plot, lots of jokes, and a host of weird robots will draw readers in, especially those looking for books similar to series such as "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (Abrams/Amulet) and "Timmy Failure" (Candlewick).—Misti Tidman, Licking County Library, Newark, OH