Brother from a Box

 
Charming, somewhat silly tale of human-robot rivalry.

What parents need to know

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

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.

Violence

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

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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

Author:Evan Kuhlman
Illustrator:Iacopo Bruno
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Robots
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Atheneum
Publication date:May 1, 2012
Number of pages:304
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Read aloud:9 - 12
Read alone:9 - 12

This review of Brother from a Box was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 10 years old June 3, 2013
age 8+
 

The Horridly Stupid Brother From A Box

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written bymeno11 May 5, 2012
age 8+
 

its good

What other families should know
Great messages

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