Beginning a new year of school is not so easy. But when you’re a robot, it’s REALLY difficult. From Tom Angleberger, author of the Origami Yoda, Inspector Flytrap and QwikPick Papers series, as well as Horton Halfpot and Fake Mustache comes another humorous and heartfelt story about a unique character.
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Max Zelaster is a pretty average student a Vanguard One Middle School. Of course, to even BE at Vanguard One, you have to be pretty bright; the weekly UpGrade Tests see to that; if kids don’t meet their potential they’re DownGraded to a less desirable school in the Federal School Board Program. The one thing Max excels at is robots…she just loves everything about them…from programming to design.
So when Vanguard One becomes the test site for RIP, the new national Robot Integration Program, Max is hoping that she might get a chance to participate. When the awkward-looking robot shows up, Max is less than impressed…especially when it trips and falls, barely missing her as it crashes to the ground. Her quick actions in getting it back up and running though brings her to the attention of Dr. Jones and Lieutenant Colonel Nina, the people running the program. The two ask Max to be the robot’s guide in the school. They explain that Fuzzy–whose name is classified, but the nickname comes from the fuzzy logic he uses to problem solve–might be good at retrieving information and learning from experience, but he has no idea how to be a student. Max agrees. What an opportunity to learn!
Soon Fuzzy is immersed in Max’s classes, and Max is finding out more and more about Fuzzy. And even though he’s proving to be a very good friend, she’s asking more and more questions about why a robot is being integrated into a middle school. It’s kind of weird, right? Why would a robot have to learn how to be a kid?
Unfortunately, as soon as things start to go smoothly in their classes, Fuzzy manages to get Max in trouble with Vice Principal Barbara, the artificial intelligence that runs the school. Fuzzy may be making friends and learning all kinds of new skills, but Max is racking up discipline tags, tardiness tags and citizenship tags…and so is Fuzzy.
What is going on with Vice Principal Barbara, who seems to be lurking around every corner, through her view screens, janitorial robots and the eyes, hands and ears she has (literally!) all over the school? She seems to have it in for both Max and Fuzzy…and all those tags are mounting. Even though the adults don’t believe them, Max and Fuzzy know that half of the tags are for things that never even happened. Through the Vice Principal’s actions, Max becomes a student At Risk. If she’s DownGraded, she could lose her place at Vanguard One, as well as all her friends and any chance to find out more from or about Fuzzy.
Through some excellent code-cracking and a little sneaking around, Max and Fuzzy start to uncover some truths about the Robot Integration Program and about Rossum Technologies, which runs the program for the government. They’re sure they’re onto something, because as soon as they start getting some answers, armed men (and one woman) try to kidnap Fuzzy! When they get him back, it’s Max’s turn. With some quick teamwork by Max and her friends, the kids are onto a government conspiracy with Fuzzy at the center.
Can Max and Fuzzy save Fuzzy from being turned into scrap…or worse? Can they save Max from being kicked out of Vanguard One Middle School? Can they discover what, exactly is going on with Vice Principal Barbara and Rossum Technologies? Only time, friendship and a lot of detective work and effort will tell.
Fuzzy is such a fun audio book! Narrator Erin Moon is a professional actor and award-winning narrator of over 150 audio books. She gives each of the characters a distinct voice, and the overall package is wonderful. I love the short chapters in the book, and the terse style translates very well to the audio. In fact, I want to go look up Erin and see what else she’s narrated, just because I enjoyed Fuzzy so much.
I would highly recommend Fuzzy as a book or an audio book for kids from fourth through eighth grade. The whole question of artificial intelligence and school tests, which would probably pass unquestioned by younger readers, would be a great discussion topic by older readers. The book is deceptively easy, because there is a lot of weight to the subject matter. Like all of Tom Angleberger’s books, there’s also a lot of humor. Just ask anyone who has read Origami Yoda, or Fake Mustache. Fuzzy is a science fiction book with a bit of humor, a smidgen of adventure, with a bit of mystery thrown in. Anyone who likes any of those things should love Fuzzy.
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So if you’re looking for a good book for a car trip, or just to read around town, try Fuzzy.
Some similar books are: Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks, Robot Revolution by James Patterson, or Eager by Helen Fox.
Some similar audio books are: Crunch by Leslie Connor and Have Spacesuit, Will Travel by Robert Heinlein.
As always, whether you’re looking for a book or an audio book, our librarians can help you find the perfect one to suit your needs! Just ask us…we love to help.
Happy Halloween and Happy Reading!