Vanguard Middle School’s no place for breaking rules; computerized Vice Principal Barbara sees to that.
Sixth-grader Maxine “Max” Zelaster and her friends struggle to pass the Federal School Board’s nonstop tests in the newly instituted Constant UpGrade program. The kids think they are doing well, but their grades don’t reflect their work. Their cumulative scores are dragged even lower by discipline tags and citizenship infractions, all noted by Barbara’s all-seeing electronic eyes. Enter Fuzzy, the government’s attempt to create a robot that will program itself. Scientists in the Robot Integration Program ask Max to show Fuzzy around because of her interest in robots, but this leads to further trouble for Max at school and at home; Barbara just seems to have it in for her. Fuzzy uncovers irregularities with test scoring and begins to suspect something’s wrong with the vice principal, but can he save his new friend Max while evading corporate spies and his creators’ plans for his future? Origami Yoda creator Angleberger teams up with science-fiction writer Dellinger for this funny, thrilling, and thought-provoking page-turner. Riffing on some of the same issues as Origami Yoda’s second trilogy—individuality and the dangers of standardized testing—the duo have crafted a day-after-tomorrow cautionary tale of friendship with a fuzzy, robotic heart.
Provocative issues that never overwhelm storytelling make this a winner. (Science fiction. 8-12)