Friday, May 4, 2012

Celia’s Robot

Celia’s Robot
Margaret Chang
Holiday House, 2009
$16.95, Hardcover
March 17th, 2012

Genre: Realistic, Science Fiction
Age: 9+
Description: Ten-year-old Celia’s got some problems. She gets teased at school for being the only Asian-looking kid in her town. Her mom, a traveling cellist, and her dad, a brilliant but busy scientist, are arguing a lot, and she’s finding fifth grade to be a disaster. It all changes when her dad presents her with a robot for her birthday. The robot is a prototype he built for Celia to help her manage her chaotic life (messy room, homework troubles) but it is also a prototype for a new robotic vision system he’s working on and a new robotic program for interactivity. Robot can actually learn from Celia. While bossy at first, Celia comes to think of Robot as a friend too, especially when her parents leave her alone most of the time. When her dad gets talked into bring Robot to school for a unit on computers and robotics, he agrees and Robot ends up in the local newspaper. Celia is worried since her dad has adamantly said no one must know about it because of some major competition to his company. One day, months after her birthday, Celia returns home to an empty house during early dismal due to a major snow storm only to find the electricity is down and Robot is missing. With both parents out of town because of work, Celia teams up with the annoying Tim who, in his jealously, told Fisher, her dad’s main competitor, about the robot. Can they track it down and rescue it before her dad’s work is permanently gone?
Opinion: This is an alright book. It is fun to watch Celia interact with her robot and grow to love it and teach it new things. Her dad does tend to go over the deep end a bit on protecting it and fails to realize that Celia has his brains to work with such technology and he could actually be putting that to use by teaching her about his job and allowing her to have hands on experience. Unfortunately, when Robot is kidnapped the story goes a bit into inconceivable land as the two ten-year-old kids in the middle of a massive snow storm which has caused the whole town to shut down get on the one working bus which takes them to a train station where they go to Boston, find the building where Fisher’s corporation is located, brake in, and get caught. It’s a little too much for suspension of disbelief—they are 10! The story ends happily with everyone reunited and Celia and Tim get to help her dad repair Robot, which Celia decides to give to Tim because he needs Robot more than she does.

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