Book Review: House of Robots – Robot Revolution, by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_robot_revolutionJames Patterson is one of the most prolific authors today. He co-authors a number of series with up and coming authors. Most feature his trademark of short, attention grabbing chapters. While famous for his adult series of Alex Cross novels, James has a significant range of young adult books, including the Middle School series and this edition from the House of Robots series. In his spare time, Patterson is involved in a lot of charitable work supporting youth literacy, independent bookstores and education scholarships. It makes it very easy to support a best-selling author who is passionate about engaging children in reading!

House of Robots: Robot Revolution may seem lengthy at 316 pages, but the story is broken into short chapters with many illustrations throughout. At the heart of the story is Sammy, who lives with his sister and parents in a robot-filled house. His mother is an inventor, who has designed a number of household robots. One robot, E, has a special purpose: he attends school for Sammy’s sister, Maddie. Maddie has an auto-immune illness that prevents her from leaving the house. As the story starts Sammy’s parents are distracted,and the robots are not working properly. This causes trouble for Sammy at home and school.

In many ways this is quite a sweet story. While it is clear that the parents are very busy, and that Maddy’s illness is a serious household concern, the story’s focus is on Sammy and school. The characters are well defined, and stop short of being cliched – I was left with a very sympathetic view of a busy family who look out for each other. The story includes a number of amusing robot-related disasters, and my ten-year-old daughter was often heard laughing out loud while reading this book. We have since sought out the other books in this series.

It is a very entertaining read, and one that is suitable for children aged 9-12.

A review from Hannah (10)

Robots! You would think that they help the house run better, right? Right!? Well, not really. These robots are sick of their job but support a little girl (Maddie). They adore her but rebel because they think E, a robot who goes to school for Maddie, gets all the best care.

A science fair must be won, however a snobby, rich and intelligent boy is crushing hopes and dreams by using perfection as a base for all his work. Can Sammy beat the new kid and save his sister from her prison in her room because of a disease? Can his best friend stay loyal all the way? Can they see the new kid make his biggest mistake yet in front of public, or will Sammy be forever humiliated by his whole school? Find out the answers in the book!

I love this book and I have read it over and over again.

I give this book 8/10 bunny power!

Book review by Emma Rutherford and Hannah Wong-Ming

House of Robots: Robot Revolution
Written by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
Published by Arrow
ISBN 9781784754242



Book Review: Bicycling to the moon, by Timo Parvela and Virpi Talvitie

cv_bicycling_to_the_moonAvailable now in bookshops nationwide.

Gecko Press has arranged a very sweet translation of this book by famed Finnish children’s author Timo Parvela. Bicycling to the Moon is a chapter book about Purdy and Barker, a cat and dog that are opposites in all ways and live together “in a sky-blue house on top of a hill.” The odd-couple pairing allows the set up of many charming conflicts between the pair.

The stories are quite detailed character studies and it is nice to see a children’s book with such well-developed characters. My youngest daughter liked guessing what would happen next, based on what she knew about the characters. It is a fantastic read aloud book for five- and six-year-olds. She enjoyed it when the the pair were setting each other up for pranks. I really enjoyed how Barker and Purdy would stop just short of being horrid to each other as their mutual regard reigned in their mischief.

Older independent readers will enjoy the stories – while there is a link between the stories it is quite easy to just read a chapter by itself. All ages should enjoy the attractive illustrations. Indeed, my memories of the story are strongly based on the illustrations. This beautiful book will make a great birthday gift for any child.

Review of Bicycling to the Moon by Hannah Wong-Ming, age nine.

Purdy is very playful and impatient whereas Barker is disciplined and focused. They each have different ideas and goals and Purdy gets on Barker’s fur a lot! There are some really funny pictures and I like how the first letter of each chapter is drawn. At one point Purdy asks for a surprise party and another time he bosses around Barker when going fishing. Barker is very caring about his vegetable patch and seems to have a good memory.

I liked this book because of how one event flows into another. I liked the illustrations, especially the one that is on the bookmark.

I would recommend this book for fluent readers aged 8-12.

Reviewed by Emma and Hannah Wong-Ming

Bicycling to the Moon
by Timo Parvela and Virpi Talvitie
Published by Gecko Press
ISBN  9781776570324

Two Book Reviews: Detective Gordon: The First Case, by Ulf Nilsson

Available in bookstores nationwide.

Book review #1, by Hannah

The first case is about two detectives trying to solve the mystery of nuts being stolen from cv_the_first_casewoodland animals. Its a bit tricky though. The thieves are very cunning and also clever, which makes this case very hard to solve. Will the two detectives solve this mystery? Or will the thieves win this time? See for yourself!

I thought this book was wondrous to read, a tricky mystery that was nice, entertaining, adventurous and mysterious all at the same time. I know this book will be delightful to anyone who reads it. I hope you liked my review.

by Hannah Wong-Ming, age 8

Book Review #2, by Hannah’s mum Emma 

I am truly thankful for Gecko Press. Without this creative Wellington-based publisher, we would be very unlikely to have good access to such authors as Ulf Nilsson. Finding and translating excellent children’s books from all around the world is a passion of the publisher, Julia Marshall. I have not ever been disappointed by a Gecko Press book (I own an embarrassing number of them), and find them to be reliable presents. Ulf Nilsson’s All the Dear Little Animals and When We Were Alone in the World are two of my favourite children’s books.

The First Case features animals making sense of the forest around them. This forest features very polite animals, except for the thief who has stolen a squirrel’s stockpile of winter nuts. Chief Detective Gordon (a toad) is the most important (and only) policeman in the forest. It is his job to find the thief. In doing so he comes across a frozen, nameless mouse. They help each other, and on learning the mouse has no name, Chief Gordon solemnly names her to help make the mouse find her place in the world. He then uses his ever-present stamp to make it official. The newly named Buffy becomes Chief Gordon’s apprentice. Their combined skills, and a little logic, solve the case.

The story is simply and beautifully told. The accompanying pictures (illustrated by Gitte Spee) communicate the special world of the snow-laden forest. This is a gentle mystery story, suitable for young readers aged 7-9. I’m hopeful that it is the first in a series of further forest mysteries.

Reviewed by Emma Wong-Ming

Detective Gordon: The First Case
by Ulf Nilsson, illustrated by Gitte Spee
Published by Gecko Press
ISBN 9781927271506