cover image House of Robots

House of Robots

James Patterson with Chris Grabenstein, illus. by Juliana Neufeld. Little, Brown, $13.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316-40591-1

Patterson and Grabenstein, collaborators on the I Funny books, launch the House of Robots series, about Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez and his family, whose household brims with robots invented by his genius mother. Fifth-grader Sammy is mortified when his mother insists that E, her newest invention, accompany him to school. The comically disruptive robot—who Neufeld draws to resemble C-3PO crossed with a stereotypical geek—contradicts teachers, escalates a food fight, and sparks a fire after his feverish recitation of science facts overloads his circuit boards. Underlying the novel’s laughs are themes of friendship, compassion, and family, particularly in regard to Sammy’s devotion to his younger sister, who is housebound due to severe immunodeficiency, and his deepening relationship with his “bro-bot.” E’s disappearance interjects a splash of mystery into the story, while Neufeld’s (Treasure Hunters) raucous cartoons and comics sequences (not all seen by PW) amp up the comedy with slapstick action, metafictional gags, and lots of robo-gadgetry. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: (for Patterson) Robert Barnett and Deneen Howell, Williams & Connolly LLP; (for Grabenstein) Eric Myers, Spieler Agency. Illustrator’s agency: Shannon Associates. (Dec.)