cover image Weird Little Robots

Weird Little Robots

Carolyn Crimi, illus. by Corinna Luyken. Candlewick, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9493-7

This quirkily inventive middle grade debut by Crimi (I Am the Boss of This Chair) introduces Penny Rose, a shy 11-year-old who has made no friends in her new town. She spends most of her time alone in the backyard shed creating miniature robots out of “odd items that pleased her,” including a meat thermometer, a cellphone, and a marble. Spying on Lark, an eccentric classmate and neighbor, Penny Rose discovers the girl’s collection of handmade birdhouses, decorated with objects that birds drop in her yard, and recognizes a kindred spirit who “couldn’t resist making something from nothing, either.” At Lark’s suggestion, the two repurpose items to build the robots a town in the shed, after which Penny Rose’s robotic creations spring to life. Into this magical plot strand Crimi capably weaves a real-life quandary that jeopardizes the girls’ friendship: when Penny Rose is invited to try out for the Secret Science Society, she breaks her vow of secrecy with Lark and shares her robots with the members—the popular kids at school—to prove her scientific acumen. In affecting illustrations, Luyken (The Book of Mistakes) successfully captures the heroines’ likable sincerity, ingenuity, and mutual affection, as well as the robots’ spunky personalities. Ages 8–12. [em]Author’s agent: Danielle Smith, Red Fox Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.) [/em]