A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Robots Go Wild! is the second book in the House of Robots series from James Patterson, the prolific author of series including Middle School and I Funny, and his frequent coauthor Chris Grabenstein. With its many black-and-white illustrations (by Juliana Neufeld) and straightforward story lines, this series is a good fit for reluctant readers. The second installment remains pretty low on violence, and it's mostly the robots-against-robots kind or when robots run amok through town, damaging cars and such. We get a brief glimpse of a robot with weapons, but that's it. Readers will probably remember that the main character's sister suffers from an autoimmune disease. She's rushed to the hospital once with a high fever. Expect many mentions of Notre Dame, where the main character's mother works in the robotics department, and one-time mentions of movies, products, games, and restaurants.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Sammy has just gotten used to his robot buddy E going to school with him every day and helping his homebound sister Maddie attend the third grade when a new robot shows up at school. He's named SS-10K, is much flashier than E, and is made by Sammy's mom's rival, Professor Ingalls. All the kids who used to think Sammy was not a "Dweebiac" anymore start hanging out with SS-10K. Bad enough, until E starts acting really funny. Like, rampage-around-town funny. Sammy's mom can't figure out what's going on with E, but Sammy has a hunch it has something to do with SS-10K, especially when he sneaks over to Professor Ingalls' house and overhears his plans; his ploy to take Sammy's mom's job is just the beginning.
Is it any good?
If you're trying to engage reluctant (especially boy) readers, combining robots with football the way this sequel does adds up to a game well played. There's plenty of suspense leading up to the big game, such as, Will Sammy's mom keep her job? Will Sammy's dad think of a new comic strip? Will Maddie ever get to go to school again? And just how much of a baddie is this Professor Ingalls?
Kids will dive right in, but at the same time more advanced readers will find the antics somewhat forgettable, something prolific authors such as James Patterson seem to churn out in a week and forget about. One thing that makes ROBOTS GO WILD! in particular seem quickly made is that twice the art doesn't match what's going on with the words, such as when SS-10K is said to be sitting in front of the class and blocking everyone's view -- but in the picture he's sitting in the back. If the series wants to keep appealing to visual learners, it helps to remember just how attentive they are to details like these.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what kinds of robots you'd like around the house. Pick one of Sammy's or come up with your own.
There's a moment in every suspenseful story when characters believe "all hope is lost." What is that moment in this story? How do they get pulled out of it?
What do the illustrations add to this story? Did they originally draw you in? How would the series be different without them?
- Authors: James Patterson, Chris Grabenstein
- Illustrator: Juliana Neufeld
- Genre: Family Life
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Brothers and Sisters, Robots
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: November 23, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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