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The Winter of the Robots Hardcover – October 8, 2013

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 590L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (October 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307931862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307931863
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,286,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The probability of his temperamental dad finding out that Jim has borrowed several high-tech security cameras for a science fair project turns out to be the least of his worries in this offbeat thriller. Set up in a seedy North Minneapolis junkyard near the river in hopes of observing otters, the cameras immediately disappear after a flash of weird footage. Should Jim and his seventh-grade friends believe the claim of Ted, a decrepit local? He says the yard, the site of an experimental robot lab that was destroyed years ago in a huge explosion, is haunted. Told in a spare, matter-of-fact narrative, this packs the space between the lines with humor, drama, romantic tension, and deftly delivered insight into the characters of a diverse, well-developed cast. The tale pitches Jim and his classmates (with significant help from his smarter little sister, Penny) into designing, constructing, and testing homemade battle robots both as plan B for the science fair and as a later entry in a competition at a nearby mall. The latter hard-fought contest presages a similar but much larger scale climactic bashfest in the wake of revelations that the junkyard is indeed inhabited—by feral, self-programming robots capable of violence and murder. Scaletta amps up the voltage with suspense and excitement, but he also seamlessly integrates family issues and peer dynamics and cybernetic feats that seem only slightly futuristic. Grades 6-9. --John Peters


Starred Review, Booklist, December 1, 2013:
“Told in a spare, matter-of-fact narrative, this packs the space between the lines with humor, drama, romantic tension, and deftly delivered insight into the characters of a diverse, well developed cast.”

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2013:
"A deft mix of middle school drama and edgy techno thrills."

More About the Author

Kurtis Scaletta is the author of several books for young readers including Mudville, which was short listed for the Mark Twain Readers Award, and The Tanglewood Terror, which was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. He lives in Minneapolis with wife and son and some cats.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rose Green on January 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I like all of Kurtis Scaletta's books--the mushroom one (The Tanglewood Terror) is one of my particular favorites. But I dunno, I like this one at least as much if not more. It's Minneapolis in the winter, and Jim is tired of always being sidekick to his friend Oliver's science experiments. Which are ALWAYS about robots. So this year, he teams up with Rocky, a girl from down the street, instead. Their science fair project is supposed to be about observing otters at a nearby dump (observed with Jim's dad's security cameras, which he doesn't exactly have permission to use). But then the cameras are stolen. Not to mention people getting hurt and a lot of...really weird things happening at the site, which is not just a dump but the wreck of some kind of technology company where Oliver's dad used to work before the tragic incident that destroyed the lab and killed Oliver's dad.

Loved the Minneapolis setting, the real-feeling kids, the really different kind of story (robotics, the kind that smart kids get into around middle school and sometimes go to competitions for). Loved the little sister. (They build a snow fort. "This will protect us," she said. "Protect us from what?" "Extremists," she said, which made me wonder what was going on in the puppet show she'd been watching." Or the moment much later on, where she's snooping around in Jim's room and discovers a disk he was hiding in a "horror book about fungus." The Tanglewood Terror, perhaps? ;) ) So if you're wanting a middle grade story that's realistic contemporary but bordering on the fantastical, this is a great pick.
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