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ROBOTS by Chris Oxlade


From the Explorers series

by Chris Oxlade ; illustrated by Peter Bull

Age Range: 8 - 10

Pub Date: July 16th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-7534-6816-6
Publisher: Kingfisher

This haphazard jumble of military, domestic, space, toy and industrial robots is unlikely to draw young technophiles for more than a quick once-over.

The design is dizzying: Crammed over and around pictures of robots in visually overstuffed mixes and even composites of photographic and photorealistic digital elements, scattered blocks of text in different point sizes extol the range of robotic capabilities. Robots that are actually functional now are not differentiated from those still in the experimental or concept stages, and the commentary is often misleading—“To communicate feelings, androids have mechanisms in their heads”—or too vague to be meaningful: “Robot animals move in the same way as real animals”; “The ultimate medical robots operate on human patients.” These and many other statements cry out for explanation and clarification. Some readers may find the pervasive focus on robots with cute features, from Sega’s “Dream Cat Venus” to a Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (BEAR) that sports little ursine ears, off-putting, if not downright creepy. Furthermore, there are no source notes or leads to further information.

Substandard nonfiction series fare, aimed at a slightly older audience than the publisher’s Kingfisher Young Knowledge entry on the topic (2003) but a clean miss. (Nonfiction. 8-10)