Oh, wow! If you enjoyed the humor and school setting of Tom Angleberger's Origami Yoda series, then you must read his new book with coauthor Paul Dellinger. Max (short for Maxine, but she just likes Max and that's all) is a student at Vanguard Middle School. The school has been selected to pilot a Robot Integration Program, having an actual robot as a student. When she is chosen to act as a native guide for the robotic student, Fuzzy, Max is thrilled. But not everyone is happy about this development, including the computer program Barbara that acts as the vice-principal for the school. Barbara's lines of code and logic see Fuzzy as a disruption to learning, and students like Max fall into the same category. To get rid of these distractions, how far can and will a computerized school principal go?
As a teacher during a time of high-stakes testing and constant pressure from government at all levels to "improve student performance," I had to laugh at the #CUG in the story. The Federal School Board has come up with a program called Constant UpGrade (Get it - Up Grade?) that all the schools must follow. The computer program Barbara is there to help with that goal. Her job is supposed to be keeping track of demerits for breaking school rules, logging test scores, etc. And the students all feel pretty much the same about it. "The Constant UpGrade program was supposed to be a "revolution in education" with "cutting-edge technology" like Barbara. But it had turned out to mostly be a giant pain in the butt. The cutting-edge technology was always yelling at you, and with the constant testing, none of the classes were any fun. Since teachers got their own #CUG scores, all they seemed to care about was preparing for the next test." I just have to ask - how much time have the authors spent on school visits lately? Because we may not have computers for vice-principals, but some of what they describe in this fictional school feels all too real. And the rest feels like a dire prediction of things to come.
Anyway, I digress. My point is that just as Fuzzy's programmers put him into the school environment to try and help him learn to emulate human behavior, the authors have managed to capture middle school life very well. The pressure to do well because your academic future depends on it (with or without #CUG). The helpless feeling of being a teen or tween and having multiple adults all telling you what to do - sometimes with conflicting orders. The struggle to find a way to fit in and have friends. And that last one is something that Fuzzy really seems to be writing a lot of code for as he comes up with improvements on his programming and evolves as a thinking machine. The references to classic SciFi like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Ray Bradbury are awesome and will perhaps send young readers looking for some of that great literature.
Anyone who wants to see school improvement taken to a laughable extreme, who enjoys some SciFi or tech mixed in with their stories of friendship and school hi-jinx, or who is simply waiting for the next Angleberger book - please readFuzzy. You will love it (98.66% chance of success).
978-1419721229 Ages 8-12 256 pages
Recommended by: Suzanne Costner, Library Media Specialist, Tennessee USA
See more of her recommendations: http://fveslibrary.blogspot.com
From the minds of Tom Angleberger, the New York Times bestselling author of the wildly popular Origami Yoda series, and Paul Dellinger, an adult science-fiction writer, comes a funny middle school story with a memorable robot title character. Reluctant readers and robot lovers in elementary and middle school will enjoy this fast-paced read that shows just how strange a place middle school can be, particularly when the new student is a state-of-the-art robot.
When Max—Maxine Zelaster—befriends her new robot classmate Fuzzy, part of Vanguard One Middle School’s new Robot Integration Program, she helps him learn everything he needs to know about surviving middle school—the good, the bad, and the really, really, ugly. Little do they know that surviving seventh grade is going to become a true matter of life and death, because Vanguard has an evil presence at its heart: a digital student evaluation system named BARBARA that might be taking its mission to shape the perfect student to extremes!
With a strong female main character who will appeal to all readers, Tom Angleberger and Paul Dellinger’s new novel offers readers a fresh take on robots. Fuzzy will find its place in the emerging category of bestselling books featuring robots, including Jon Scieszka’ s Frank Einstein series and James Patterson’s House of Robots.
Be sure to check out all of Tom Angleberger’s other acclaimed books for middle-grade readers, including Poop Fountain!; The Rat with the Human Face; Horton Halfpott; Fake Mustache; and the bestselling Origami Yoda series: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Darth Paper Strikes Back, The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee, Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus,Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue, and Jabba the Puppet. For younger readers Tom wrote the picture book McToad Mows Tiny Island, illustrated by John Hendrix, and for chapter book readers, Tom wrote the Inspector Flytrap series, illustrated by his wife Cece Bell.--From the publisher