The Winter of the Robots

( 3 )

Overview

Seven feet of snow, four science-fair nerds, one creepy junkyard.
Get ready for the ultimate robot battle.

Jim is tired of being the sidekick to his scientific genius, robot-obsessed, best friend Oliver. So this winter, when it comes time to choose partners for the science fair, Jim dumps Oliver and teams up with a girl instead. Rocky has spotted wild otters down by the river, and her idea is to study ...

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The Winter of the Robots

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Overview

Seven feet of snow, four science-fair nerds, one creepy junkyard.
Get ready for the ultimate robot battle.

Jim is tired of being the sidekick to his scientific genius, robot-obsessed, best friend Oliver. So this winter, when it comes time to choose partners for the science fair, Jim dumps Oliver and teams up with a girl instead. Rocky has spotted wild otters down by the river, and her idea is to study them. 

But what they discover is bigger—and much more menacing—than fuzzy otters: a hidden junkyard on abandoned Half Street. And as desolate as it may seem, there's something living in the junkyard. Something that won't be contained for long by the rusty fences and mounds of snow. Can Jim and Rocky—along with Oliver and his new science-fair partner—put aside their rivalry and unite their robot-building skills? Whatever is lurking on Half Street is about to meet its match.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
It is Science Fair time again, and Jim knows his best friend/usual science partner Oliver will want them to do a robot project—again. Robots are all Oliver seems to be interested in. But Jim does not want to be relegated to making the "arts and crafts" prototypes for the robot to destroy. He is tired of that. When classmate Rocky invites him to work with her on a project observing otters in the creek that abuts landfill property, Jim jumps at the chance. He is nervous about sneaking some cameras out of his dad's security business for the project, but he does it. Then the cameras are stolen by classmate Dmitri (Oliver's new science partner project), and Jim knows he is going to be in big trouble. That's just the tip of the iceberg. Looking for the cameras in the deserted landfill, Jim senses there is something strange going on at the property. When Dmitri turns up missing, Jim is convinced there is danger. Will the classmates be able to figure out what has taken over the junkyard? Will they be able to stop it in time? While the robot elements of Scaletta's novel are intriguing, the draw of this story comes from the relationships between the friends, within their families, and with their community. This is a satisfying book that is sure to have readers looking for other works by the same author. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-01
What if the robot apocalypse was beginning— subtly—in your own neighborhood? Blue flashes and sinister clanking noises emanating from the junk abandoned near the otter habitat that Jim and his science-fair partner Rocky (short for Rochelle) plan to observe via remote camera turn out to be the remains of a defense research project. The fierce, Taser-armed, self-reprogramming dinobots don't make more than a fleeting appearance until the penultimate, climactic chapter, but since Jim and his friends take up robot construction and programming when the ottercams are stolen, it becomes clear early on that their skills will be put to use in ways larger than a local robot-fighting competition. The burnt-out buildings of the research company highlight the North Minneapolis setting of an urban neighborhood struggling with contemporary economic hardship. Scaletta provides his seventh-grade protagonists with complex back stories and gives them a fair amount of freedom to roam, sophisticated understanding of the adult world and plenty of smarts for learning how to code instructions for semi-autonomous robots. These young teens' own autonomy is a given—parents and adults close to them remain clueless. By the time Jim and his friends confront the robot menace with their own impressively armored fighting creation, they have mastered a fair amount of coding and hardware technology in robotics. A deft mix of middle school drama and edgy techno thrills. (Science fiction. 11-14)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Booklist, December 1, 2013:
“Told in a spare, matter-of-fact narrative, this packs the space between the lines with humor, drama, romantic tension, and deftly delivered insight into the characters of a diverse, well developed cast.”

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2013:
"A deft mix of middle school drama and edgy techno thrills."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307931863
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 10/8/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 538,447
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

KURTIS SCALETTA is the author of Mudville, a Booklist Top 10 Sports Book for Youth; Mamba Point, which the New York Times Book Review called "entertaining and touching"; and The Tanglewood Terror, a Kids' Indie Next List Selection and winner of the Minnesota Readers' Choice Award. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and son.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2013

    Crap

    Crap there are no reviews now i have to buy the stupid book with no aproval

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2014

    WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE

    saying c*** is not needed

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 15, 2014

    I like all of Kurtis Scaletta's books--the mushroom one (The Tan

    I like all of Kurtis Scaletta's books--the mushroom one (The Tanglewood Terror) is one of my particular favorites. But I dunno, I like this one at least as much if not more. It's Minneapolis in the winter, and Jim is tired of always being sidekick to his friend Oliver's science experiments. Which are ALWAYS about robots. So this year, he teams up with Rocky, a girl from down the street, instead. Their science fair project is supposed to be about observing otters at a nearby dump (observed with Jim's dad's security cameras, which he doesn't exactly have permission to use). But then the cameras are stolen. Not to mention people getting hurt and a lot of...really weird things happening at the site, which is not just a dump but the wreck of some kind of technology company where Oliver's dad used to work before the tragic incident that destroyed the lab and killed Oliver's father.

    Loved the Minneapolis setting, the real-feeling kids, the really different kind of story (robotics, the kind that smart kids get into around middle school and sometimes go to competitions for). Loved the little sister. (They build a snow fort. "This will protect us," she said. "Protect us from what?" "Extremists," she said, which made me wonder what was going on in the puppet show she'd been watching." Or the moment much later on, where she's snooping around in Jim's room and discovers a disk he was hiding in a "horror book about fungus." The Tanglewood Terror, perhaps? ;) ) So if you're wanting a middle grade story that's realistic contemporary but bordering on the fantastical, this is a great pick.

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