Weird little robots by Carolyn Crimi

cover image

Illus. by Corrina Luyken.Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781406387988. pbk., 240pp.
(Age: 8-11) Recommended. As the title suggests, Weird little robots is centred on robots created out of bits and pieces. Eleven year old Penny Rose Mooney is new to town and more importantly, new to her school. Her father is an entomologist who has taken over responsibility for running the household as Penny Rose's mother has a new job in a bank which is why they have moved. She is an only child who spends her time in her own ramshackle shed constructing small robots out of anything she can find such as dentures, a calculator and an old mobile phone. She gives the robots names and talks to them as if they are real. Penny Rose's neighbour across the road is Lara Hinkle who is in her class at school and is seen as a geek by her classmates. Lara constructs bird houses and has a relationship with the birds who live in them. She wears large sunglasses at all times and is a loner. Penny Rose's parents encourage her to make friends with Lara and through a series of amusing events this eventually happens.
Mysteriously, after a cold wind blows through the shed, the robots come to life. Lara, who is sceptical about the robots at first, comes to love the robots as much as Penny Rose and together the two friends construct an amazing metropolis for the robots called RoboTown. At Lara's instigation the girls sign a proclamation promising never to discuss the robots with another living soul. However as what happens so often with girls and friendships, one of the friends decides to choose another more popular group over her true friend. The pull of belonging to a Secret Science Society is just too much for Penny Rose and she abandons her friendship with Lara. After some very difficult challenges for Penny Rose, she eventually realises that Lara is her true friend and they carefully rebuild their relationship and slowly form friendships with other students.
Throughout the story are clever black and white illustrations which perfectly reflect the text and keep the reader engaged. This is an enjoyable read for middle primary students. Themes: Girls, Friendship, New school, New challenges, STEM, Inventions, Science.
Kathryn Beilby