Kuhlman (The Last Invisible Boy) offers up a quirky story of a boy and his robot. Twelve-year-old Matt Rambeau gets a surprise when a large crate from France arrives at his New York City apartment. Even more surprising, it contains the world’s most advanced, most realistic robot, which looks just like a stereotypical French boy; Bruno pictures the robot, which Matt promptly names Norman, wearing a striped shirt and beret. It turns out that Norman is part of a project Matt’s father and uncle have been working on, and now Matt gets to help Norman adjust to and blend in with society. Hijinks ensue, especially when Matt realizes dangerous people are out to steal Norman for their own nefarious ends. This mixture of action and humor is recounted in Matt’s idiosyncratic narration, which is full of non sequiturs and bounces from topic to topic in chapters that range from a paragraph to several pages. Bruno’s illustrations, not all seen by PW, add to the story’s overall goofy charm. Ages 9–12. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writer’s House. (May)
"Equally entertaining and thought-provoking, this one will appeal to science-fiction and suspense fans as well as those readers who tend toward more character and relationship-focused selections."
Gr 3–6—Matt Rambeau is living the dream of any red-blooded 12-year-old boy—his new brother is a robot. Norman arrives from France in a crate, and though he is a "bionically modified life-form," he looks just like a regular kid. Sure, he's a bit of a show-off, but Matt warms up to his role as protective older brother when he realizes that someone is trying to steal his new sibling. This book is bursting with kid appeal—the premise alone will grab many a reluctant reader, and comic-book-style illustrations only add to the story's charm. Unfortunately, the writing is somewhat flawed. The plot doesn't really take off until the thieves come into the story, but the main turnoff is Matt's narrative voice, which more closely resembles that of an eight-year-old than a middle schooler. Nonetheless, most tweens will gobble up descriptions of Norman's antics while wishing for a robot brother of their own.—Sam Bloom, Groesbeck Branch Library, Cincinnati, OH
Who wouldn't want a French-speaking, beret-wearing robot for a brother? When a peculiar package arrives from France, 12-year-old Matt unpacks a robot. He is not all that surprised to learn that his father and uncle, both genius computer scientists, have created two robot children and plan to have them live as members of their respective families for a year before revealing their existence to the world. Matt adapts quickly, dubbing his new brother Norman and helping him to get used to life in America and the routines of school and family life. It's not all smooth sailing, though--Matt's mom is disturbed to discover how much Norman looks like a child she lost years before, Norman suffers from a computer virus and suddenly a couple of strange men seem to be paying too much attention to Norman and Matt. Written in Matt's clever, casual and funny voice, this is a page-turner filled with fun, intrigue and suspense that sneaks in some important and timely questions. What does it mean to be human? How far should science really go in the name of preserving, protecting or even recreating life? How does profound grief affect our decisions and relationships? Equally entertaining and thought-provoking, this one will appeal to science-fiction and suspense fans as well as those readers who tend toward more character and relationship-focused selections. (Science fiction. 9-12)