My Brother, the Robot

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Overview

Chip didn't think anything could be worse than almost failing fifth grade until his new brother, Simon, arrived. Simon is the latest in robotic technology. He looks just like a human boy, but he is ten times better-better at being polite, cleaning his room, spouting the multiplication tables at summer school, and swimming, Chip's favorite sport. Dad hopes that Simon will set a good example for Chip. Instead, Simon takes Chip's place-even on the swim team! Young readers, all too familiar with the pressures of ...
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Overview

Chip didn't think anything could be worse than almost failing fifth grade until his new brother, Simon, arrived. Simon is the latest in robotic technology. He looks just like a human boy, but he is ten times better-better at being polite, cleaning his room, spouting the multiplication tables at summer school, and swimming, Chip's favorite sport. Dad hopes that Simon will set a good example for Chip. Instead, Simon takes Chip's place-even on the swim team! Young readers, all too familiar with the pressures of pleasing their parents, succeeding in school, and winning in competition, will love the way man triumphs over machine in this highly entertaining book.

Author Biography: Bonny Becker is the author of The Christmas Crocodile, illustrated by David Small.

When his father buys a SIMON Robot, advertised as "the perfect son," Chip decides that he can't compete with his new brother, but in the end, the whole family learns that perfection may not be so great after all.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
It is some unspecified time in the near future and Chip's parents have decided to buy a perfect boy robot to add to their family, in the hopes that he will inspire Chip to be a better student, athlete and son. Chip is hurt and displeased by his parents' purchase and resolves to dislike the robot, Simon, and make his life miserable. The fact that Simon is a factory second and therefore not quite perfect makes him more difficult to hate, and ultimately, the boy and boy-robot become friends. This light-hearted family story with more serious undertones about parental expectations and pressures is by a first time children's book author. Its humor, sensitivity to real children and their feelings, science fiction-like plot, and creativity in solving problems will appeal to the wide variety of moods that middle-grade readers bring to their reading. The lessons about the value of "Personal Discipline" may be a little heavy-handed, but the book's jovial, positive spirit will prevail. 2001, Dutton Children's Books/Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, $15.99. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Judy Katsh
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-When Chip has to go to summer school to avoid failing fifth grade, his parents decide to buy a robot "brother" to serve as an example for their son. Simon is seemingly flawless, even though he is a "factory second." He has the Power of Discipline, whereas Chip daydreams. The boy is dismayed by this annoying machine's intrusion in his life, and is even more upset when the robot turns out to be a swimmer. Swimming is Chip's sport. The story progresses to an inevitable man-against-machine swim meet at the novel's conclusion: Chip beats a new and better robot on the opposing team. His dad is inexcusably obtuse to purchase a robot as an "example," and the man admires the robot's swimming ability to the detriment of his son. Then, in a complete turn around at the end, he admits to Chip that he lied about having won a swimming trophy when he was young and really loves his son as he is. The none-too-subtle message about accepting one's imperfections and those of others is a bit heavy-handed. Still, readers who enjoyed Timothy Bush's Benjamin McFadden and the Robot Babysitter (Crown, 1998) or Alfred Slote's My Robot Buddy (HarperCollins, 1975) may enjoy Simon's antics as well.-Debbie Whitbeck, West Ottawa Public Schools, Holland, MI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A flawed human child has to cope with a robotic brother who can do no wrong. After Chip fails fifth grade, his disappointed parents tell him that they "don't want to pressure" him, but they've ordered Simon, "the Perfect Son." Simon is a robot and at first blush he does seem to be flawless. Unlike Chip, Simon has impeccable table manners, his hair is always in place, and he's a whiz with facts and figures. Naturally, Chip hates him immediately, especially since his father seems to prefer his perfect robotic son to his imperfect real one. This part of the story, Chip's resentment toward Simon and the relationship that develops between the human and robot brothers, is amusing, insightful and enjoyable. The story goes off track when Simon begins competing on Chip's swim team. If the reader were willing to buy the premise of a robot brother, then having him compete in a sporting event would probably be no problem-but the competition is so patently unequal that it just doesn't fly. Using slippery human logic, Chip is finally able to come out a winner. He also learns the moral of the story, which is that that mistakes are an essential part of human nature and while robots are "stuck with only what can be imagined," humans "get to do the unimaginable." Despite the implausibility of the second half of the story, the text is clever and comical and kids should enjoy it, imperfections and all. (Fiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525467922
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 144
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: 590L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Bonny Becker
Bonny Becker

Bonny Becker, author of a number of award-winning picture books and middle-grade novels, says that the persistent mouse featured in A VISITOR FOR BEAR just popped into her head one day and wouldn’t go away. Several other Bear and Mouse stories are in the works. Bonny Becker lives in Seattle.

Kady MacDonald Denton is the illustrator of TWO HOMES by Claire Masurel and A CHILD'S TREASURY OF NURSERY RHYMES. She lives in Ontario, Canada.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2002

    Robots, Boys and Brotherhood.

    This story is funny and entertaining, but it is much more than that. Anyone who ever had a brother or sister will understand exactly what Chip is feeling when his father brings home a much more 'perfect' son. Robots, sports, brotherhood, friendship and family....all in one funny book!

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