Brother from a Box

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Brother from a Box Book Poster Image
Charming, somewhat silly tale of human-robot rivalry.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Brother from a Box employs a smattering of French-language dialogue. Translations are quickly provided, or the meaning is clear from context. As for any realistic insight into the science of robotics, there is none.

Positive Messages

Brother from a Box plays with a theme common to science fiction: the machine that learns to love and/or be loved. At first, the Rambeaus see Norman only as a robot, but they gradually make him part of the family.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Matthew and his family enjoy a loving, comfortable relationship. His father is a little absent-minded and distractable, and his mother is more the disciplinarian. The presence of robotic Norman is at first disruptive to the Rambeaus' routine, but they all come to love him, in their own fashions.


Matthew's family exgages in a low-speed car chase through the streets of Manhattan. A gun is brandished, but never fired.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Brother from a Box is a charming, somewhat silly tale of sibling rivalry between a 12-year-old New York boy and a French robot named Norman. There's a fair amount of talk about how weird girls and moms are, and some minor lies are told, but most of the action is gently humorous. In one scene, someone brandishes a gun but never fires it. Norman resembles a son Matthew's mother lost years before -- a plot element that may be disturbing to young kids.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymeno11 May 5, 2012

What's the story?

Twelve-year-old Matthew Rambeau is home alone when a shipping crate arrives from France. Inside is Norman, a robot designed and programmed by Matthew's father and uncle. Once assembled, Norman seems likeable enough, but Matthew's mom doesn't like him, and Annie Bananas, the annoying girl downstairs, wants to flirt with him! While Norman adjusts to American schools, Matthew has to learn how to behave with a robotic sibling in the apartment. Norman resembles a son Matthew's mother lost years before -- a plot element that may be disturbing to young kids.

Is it any good?

Told in a breezy first-person narrative by Matthew, BROTHER FROM A BOX provides a good number of laughs and lightly suspenseful situations. Matthew is a little too quick to tell a white lie, and he spends a lot of time moaning about how weird girls and moms are, but his heart is in the right place. Iacopo Bruno's engaging black-and-white drawings add an extra dose of humor and action to the story.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how this story differs from other robot stories you've read or seen in the movies. Are robots usually positive or negative characters?

  • Do you think it would be fun or werid to have a robot brother?

  • Do you think robots or computers will someday be able to think and act like human beings?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction

Themes & Topics

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