The Junkyard Bot (Robots Rule Series #1)

The Junkyard Bot (Robots Rule Series #1)


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George Gearing is a whiz with mechanics, which isn’t surprising, since his uncle runs a scrapyard. George has a ton of friends—but unfortunately they are all either robotic or over 65. But when his best bot, Jackbot, gets an unexpected upgrade, things start to change. Jackbot’s amazing new abilities catch the eye of Dr. Micron, head of robotics at TinkerTech, and suddenly George thinks that his future isn’t so bleak after all. Then Jackbot is kidnapped, and all the robots in town start losing control. Suddenly it’s up to George and his new friend Anne to test their mettle and save the day.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544668430
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 05/10/2016
Series: Robots Rule Series , #1
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 592,526
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 7 - 10 Years

About the Author

C. J. Richards has loved tinkering with gadgets since he was a little boy. He remembers fondly the time he accidentally blew up his father’s radio after some experimental rewiring. Richards lives with his wife, cat, and eight televisions.

Goro Fujita was born in Japan and moved with his family to Germany when he was three years old. He now lives in California, where he works as an illustrator and visual development artist on feature films and TV commercials.

Read an Excerpt


A voice boomed in the darkness.
   George Gearing opened his eyes and, still half asleep, lifted his head from the pillow. “Who? What?”
   George rubbed his eyes. The light that filled the room was blinding.
   George had tried to reprogram his Sergeant Wake-Me-Up clock to speak in a gentle, feminine voice, but something must have gone wrong. It had reverted to factory settings.
   The clock started blaring a recording of a bugle from across the room on George’s desk. The windows rattled with the sound.
   George plugged his fingers into his ears. “Jackbot!” he shouted.
   The door opened, and three feet of scrap and spare parts rattled into the room on wobbly legs. Jackbot’s head tilted toward the bed, and his green eyes flashed.
   “Yes, George,” he said in his expressionless mechanical voice.
   “Shut that thing up, would you?”
   “Yes, George.”
   Jackbot scooped up the alarm clock in his right pincer and placed it on the floor. He raised a metal foot, motors whirring.
   Bits of metal and plastic flew across the room. The bugle gave a final despairing wail, then fell silent.
   “That was—uh—a little extreme,” George said. But it was no use blaming Jackbot. Robots just do what they are told.
   George sat up in bed. “Could I have my glasses?”
   Jackbot trotted forward and handed George his glasses using his left-hand suction grip.
   “Yes, George.”
   George put his glasses on, and the mess of his room swam into focus. Transistor boards and loose wires littered the floor beside an open copy of Professor Droid’s book Advanced Robotics. George had been working late into the night on a new baseball drive for Jackbot. If he could just program him to catch, their games would be a lot more fun.
   George climbed out of bed and picked his way through the debris to his closet to find some clothes. A couple of old photos had fallen off the door, so he carefully stuck them back up. One, from last summer, showed Jackbot and George fishing at the lake. The other showed Jackbot teetering precariously on George’s skateboard. George grinned, recalling the day Jackbot’s balance sensors had failed on a steep bit of sidewalk by the neighbor’s front yard.
   “You remember the day you flattened Mrs. Glitch’s rosebush, Jackbot?” he said. “I thought she was going to blow a gasket!”
   “Yes, George,” said Jackbot.
   George smoothed his wiry brown hair in the mirror, pulled on his pants and a shirt, and scooped up Jackbot to carry him downstairs. He’d been working on a stairs program for ages, but it was surprisingly complicated.
   Uncle Otto was wearing his usual dingy plaid work shirt and jeans, his barrel-chested frame balanced on a rickety chair as he sat at the kitchen table. He didn’t raise his head when George walked in. He was stabbing at a battered tablet with oily fingers while munching on a piece of brown toast. The crumbs tumbled down into his half-grown beard. A greasy carburetor that he’d been working on sat in the middle of the table.
   “Morning, Uncle Otto,” George said. He glanced over his uncle’s shoulder and saw he was scrolling through an article about cars. Big surprise.
   His uncle made a sort of grunting noise, which George knew was as close to a hello as he was likely to get.
   George sat at the table and put Jackbot down on the floor beside him. Mr. Egg, the cook-bot, trundled over on its squeaking caster wheels.
   “Good-morning-sir,” it said in its flat, tinny voice. “Would-you-like-a-piece-of-toast.”
   “Sure,” George said.
   Mr. Egg inserted a slice of bread into the slot in its chest and pressed its nose. A low humming noise started up, and the toast slot glowed red.
   “Sounds good,” said George—then he had to act fast as Mr. Egg held the glass directly above the boy’s lap. George just managed to grab it before Mr. Egg let it fall. One benefit of having Mr. Egg in the kitchen, he thought. It’s good for the reflexes!
   George sipped his juice and watched the sunlight reflecting off the metal surfaces of Jackbot, Mr. Egg, and Scrubby, the dishwasher-bot. They were shabby robots, but the light pretty much brightened them up all the same. “Nice day,” George murmured absent-mindedly.
   Otto flipped over a page on the screen of his tablet. “Get me another coffee,” he said, holding out his cup to Mr. Egg. As the robot’s metal pincer grasped the cup, smoke began to pour out from the grill in its chest.
   “Toast-is-ready,” said the robot. It slid a piece of blackened toast onto the plate in front of George.
   “Um,” said George, wondering if it was even edible.
   “Coffee-is-ready,” said the cook-bot.
   It dropped the cup of scalding coffee into Uncle Otto’s lap.
   “Yow!” yelped Otto, leaping to his feet. He tore off his steaming pants and stood fuming in his boxer shorts. George saw that they were decorated with little racecars and tried not to snicker. “You hunk of metal, you could’ve put me in the hospital!” yelled Otto.
   “Are you okay?” asked George, trying to look serious.
   “I’ll survive, no thanks to you! If we have to live our lives surrounded by these thinking tin cans, can you at least make them work properly?”
   George wanted to explain that their robots needed more than just a few replacement parts. They weren’t like cars, which could have their spark plugs changed and be given a drink of oil. The house-bots needed complete reprogramming—a system overhaul—to get rid of all the bugs making them malfunction. But something told him that his uncle wasn’t in the mood for excuses. He didn’t like the bots at the best of times. So George went silent, staring down at his burnt toast.
   “Every robot in this house is a useless pile of bolts!” Otto railed on. “The gardener-bot drowns all the plants, and the dishwasher-bot leaves crusty stains on the dishes!”
   “Its name is Scrubby,” George began. “And it just needs—”
   “Whatever!” Otto growled. He grabbed his grease-stained tool bag and made for the door. “I don’t have time for this nonsense. I’m going to work.”
   “Uh, Uncle Otto?”
   “What now?”
   “You’re not wearing any pants.”
   Otto looked down at his bare legs. He seemed to be trying to think of something to say, but thought better of it and stomped off upstairs. George heard him angrily tearing around his room. A minute later Otto stomped back down again, wearing another pair of grimy jeans.
   He looked at George with narrowed eyes and said, “Not a word.” Then he walked through the front door and slammed it behind him.
   “Hey, Jackbot?” George said after his uncle was gone.
   “Yes, George.”
   “Could you make some toast? I mean, a piece I could actually eat.”
   “Yes, George.”
   Jackbot took a slice of bread and heated it with his soldering attachment until it was golden brown. Then he added a layer of butter and served the toast to George on a plate. He’d even singed a smiley face into it.
   “Oh, wow—thanks!” George said, even though he’d programmed Jackbot to do it.
   As George bit into his toast, he picked up the tablet Uncle Otto had left behind. George scrolled back to see the day’s news. There was the usual sort of stuff: Mayor Buffer was promising to be tough on cybercrime, the workers who programmed the street-cleaning robots were threatening to go on strike, and a team of scientists had genetically engineered an orange as big as a pumpkin.
   Then George’s eyes fell on an ad. It showed the gleaming towers of a building that George, and everyone else in Terabyte Heights, knew very well: TinkerTech Enterprises HQ. George touched the ad with the tip of his finger, and it came to life. The main door of the building opened and a man came out. He walked right up close until his head filled the screen. He had black hair with a touch of gray at the temples; a square, handsome face; and a cleft in his chin.
   “Hi, there,” the man said, his voice deep and rich. “Are you smart? Under eighteen? And are you dying to work in the exciting field of cutting-edge robotics? If so, this might be your lucky day. My name is Charles Micron, and I’m the deputy head of Robotics at TinkerTech. We’re looking for a very special young person to be our newest apprentice. If you want to work at the greatest company in the world and you think you’ve got what it takes, don’t wait—apply today.”
   How cool would that be? George thought. He couldn’t think of anything he’d rather do than work with his hero, Dr. Micron, and learn how to design even more amazing robots. “He may only be eleven years old,” George imagined Dr. Micron announcing to the press, “but my new apprentice, George Gearing, has an instinctive understanding of robots . . .”
   TinkerTech was the biggest company in town. It was the reason Terabyte Heights existed in the first place. Way back before George was born, a young genius named Professor A. I. Droid had used his savings to buy a piece of virtually unpopulated land in the middle of nowhere and start a company. He recruited the best technological brains from the entire world to work for him, luring them with the promise of total freedom to invent anything and everything they could dream of. As the company grew, so did Terabyte Heights. The employees and their families needed places to live, and so grocery stores, schools, and shops of all kinds popped up to serve them. Droid was definitely one of George’s heroes, but it was his second-in-command, the brilliant Dr. Micron, that George idolized the most. George wanted more than anything to be just like him when he grew up.
   Micron’s smiling face remained on the screen after the ad ended. Then it faded away. The door of TinkerTech HQ reopened and Dr. Micron emerged exactly as before. “Hi, there,” he said. “Are you smart? Under eighteen . . .”
   George sighed and turned the tablet off. He had to finish his breakfast and get ready for school. What was the point of daydreaming? He’d never get the apprenticeship. He was too young, for one thing: they said “under eighteen,” but that didn’t mean ten and a half. And even if he were older, what chance would he have? Almost anyone who applied would have better connections and more experience than he did. Just about every kid in George’s school had at least one parent who worked at TinkerTech. All George had was Uncle Otto and his grimy junkyard. His parents had worked for TinkerTech, but just in the data-filing department. And that was a long time ago.
   The doorbell rang, and George crammed the rest of his breakfast into his mouth as he headed into the front hall. He flicked the transparency switch, and the door gave him a view of his elderly neighbor standing on the doorstep, her face crinkled with anxiety. George opened the door. “Hi, Mrs. Glitch.”
   “I’m so sorry to trouble you, George. It’s Lenny. He’s acting up again.”
   “What’s he doing this time?” George asked.
   Lenny was Mrs. Glitch’s ancient helper-bot, and its circuits had gone out of date ten years ago. George did his best to patch up the robot, but he’d seen vacuum cleaners with more complex wiring.
   “He’s hanging from a tree outside my house, and he won’t come down.”
   “Huh,” said George thoughtfully. “Probably an issue with the geotropic sensors. Either that or he thinks he’s a bat.” He checked his watch. “I’ve got a few minutes before the school bus comes. I’ll get my gear.”
   “That’s really sweet of you,” Mrs. Glitch said, patting George on the shoulder.
   George ran upstairs to grab his trusty tool bag. He didn’t get many chances to put his talents to use, so he liked to help out his neighbors whenever their robots went on the fritz. Most of them couldn’t afford the latest helper-bots, so he patched up their ancient ones with scrap. Needless to say, he was very popular with the retirees on the block. They were always offering him hard candies and inviting him to dinner at four o’clock.
   “You coming, Jackbot?” George asked as he clumped down the last stair.
   “Yes, George,” said Jackbot, wobbling after him.
   As they were crossing the road, George heard a metallic clatter. He turned around and saw that a screwdriver had fallen from his bag. “Hey, Jackbot, can you get that for me?” he said.
   “Yes, George,” Jackbot said, and he ambled back into the middle of the street—just as a huge silver car came surging around the corner. It wasn’t slowing down.
   “Jackbot! Look out!” yelled George.
   “Yes, Ge—”
   With a sound like a hundred hammers on a tin can, the car smashed into Jackbot, sending him high into the air. The robot turned three somersaults and landed on his back with a sickening crunch. One of his arms skidded across the pavement, sparks flying.
   “Eerrghrifipfipfip! ZUMZUM! Plip. WHIRRR . . . splosh,” said Jackbot.
   “Jackbot!” George shouted in horror. “Are you okay?”
   Jackbot’s trailing wires fizzed and crackled, and the green light behind his eyes flickered.
   Then his head fell off.

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The Junkyard Bot 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Smart and funny. My son loves this series and can't wait for the next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everyone should read this. Thats right EVERYONE should read. . . . . . . . And I thought gameknight999was the best. I WOULD RATE INFINATE STARS IF I COULD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im Turtletail I am male,I have no kits and I am a good warrior looking for a clan to call my home.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Welcome! Here's the map: Result 1: Map and Rules <br> Result 2: Biographeries <br> Result 3: Main Camp <br> Result 4: High Branch <br> Result 5: Leader's Den <br> Result 6: Warrior's Den <br> Result 7: Apperintince's Den <br> Result 8: Medicine Den <br> Result 9: Nursery <br> Result 10: Elder's Den <br> Result 11: Training Hollow <br> Result 12: River <br> Result 13: Pine Grove <br> Result 14: Rockpile <br> Result 15,16,17: Forest <br> Result 18: Burial Grounds <br> Result 19: LightClan Border <p> Now, here are the rules, <p> 1. This clan must be realistic as possible! I want this clan to be just like the books, so realism please! <p> 2. No unreal pelt colors, wings, powers, ect. <p> 3. No bad language! Also please be nice to other rpers! <p> 4. Please have good grammer! It's hard to understand you when you type (se was sittng down how are u se sad) this! <p> 5. No mating in camp! Find somewhere else! <p> 6. Have fun! ~ Willowstar