Robotics and friendship come together for one ordinary seventh-grader.
Except for the fact that he isn’t speaking to his older brother, Rob, who is about to leave for Marine boot camp, narrator Luke Abbot likes his life and schedule the way it is, with after-school time devoted to online gaming. So it’s more than an inconvenience when he’s tapped for the school’s fledgling robotics team. No one among the motley crew of students really knows anything about robotics, and worse, mean-mouthed Missy and scary, large Lunchbox Jones are on the team. There are a few mildly scatological jokes and some tall-tale humor—for instance one girl is known for awesome dexterity with her toes. Brown’s voice for Luke is quite funny: “It was a shame when a smell could either be something horrible or food. You were never quite sure if you should enjoy it or not.” The introduction to robotics is nicely handled, with a realistic depiction of the limitations and rewards of student-built and -programmed robots. Lunchbox Jones turns out to have an ordinary name (Tim) and a poignant reason for carrying around a small blue lunchbox. And Luke finds a way to accept his brother’s choice.
Though they may not shine in the robotics department, Luke and his team succeed in other ways in this likable comedy. (Fiction. 9-13)