In Feng’s (co-author Cool-Doo, 2012, etc.) children’s novel, a boy and his robot brothers attempt to save the world from an evil scientist—but they have to stop fighting first.
When Jack’s mother had a miscarriage, his parents had their neighbor create Cool-Doo, a robot brother to help him cope. Later, Jack tricks the neighbor into creating Sleepy-Doo, a robot friend for Cool-Doo. The problem? Now Jack’s robot brothers are better than him at everything. Cool-Doo especially gets on his nerves, being more helpful and heroic than Jack can ever be. Even at their adventure camp in an international space station, they compete when they’re supposed to work as a team. They become prank targets for Jr. Z, the son of a scientist supposedly saving the world from natural disasters using money donated by people like Jack’s parents. The brothers accidentally overhear a conversation between Dr. Z and Jr. Z and discover that Dr. Z is the villain, causing tornadoes and stealing money while pretending to work on a solution. Deciding that this is his chance to be the hero, Jack sneaks back to Earth to steal the controller for the Unmoved Mover, the machine causing the disasters. His brothers tag along, but unless they learn to get along, they might not make it. The plot can be a bit erratic, with the episodic scenes of the brothers’ fights at times pushing the main conflict—Dr. Z’s tornadoes—to the background. Still, these brotherly skirmishes help establish the siblings’ difficulty in getting along while also introducing Feng’s boisterous, slapstick humor, which generally involves Jack making situations worse for himself. Though action-packed and funny, the narration tends to be bland, with blunt emotions or overly explained events slowing its pace. Dialogue—snappy when it happens—could have broken up the monotony, as could more of the simple but fun illustrations. Overly convenient discoveries bring about an expected happy ending, and the heroics leave room for more world-saving adventures.
A lively adventure that charms and delights despite raw writing and an erratic plot.