When Logan Applebaum's mother sends him to school with the android "cousin" she's invented, the white boy finds it difficult to keep Java's manufactured identity a secret.
That’s the intriguing idea behind a new series of short chapter books aimed at primary grade readers. Here, a thin plot centers on the upcoming science fair. Logan hopes Java (Jacob Alexander Victor Applebaum) will help him win a prize, but the android joins a different team. Character development starts promisingly, with Logan testing the flavors of different colors of his cereal, but then fizzles, as Logan proves more interested in magic than science and most interested in besting the Silverspoon twins. There’s no indication of racial diversity in the text, but the black-and-white illustrations do suggest different color shades among his classmates and teacher. Much of the humor comes from Java's Amelia Bedelia–like inability to understand figures of speech. (Early in the story he warms Logan’s "cold feet" with a blanket.) There’s not much suspense, but the narrative winds up with an explosive climax, and directions for a potato battery are included. Clocking in at under 100 pages, this series opener has a simultaneously published sequel (Soccer Shocker), with a third scheduled for next spring.
More premise than plot, but it’s funny enough to keep fledgling readers turning pages. (Fiction. 6-8)