Friday, June 20, 2014

Henry and human review

Henry and the Incredibly Incorrigible, Inconveniently Intelligent Smart Human

Book talk:  What would the world be like if robots dominated and humans were an experimental, often buggy technology--only good for menial tasks and incapable of higher thinking?  Just ask Henry.  He's an average bot going through his tumultuous 13th upgrade.  One day a human goes berserko in his mother's shop and they get an experimental replacement.  This new human is unlike any he's seen before.  He can complete complex tasks without step-by-step instructions and he even likes to play video games and read comic books!  Henry knows that humans aren't like robots, but he can't help feeling like this new human is more than just an appliance.  Will Henry be willing to risk it all when his new friend needs him to break into the motherboard and fight off the G-bots so they find out how this inconveniently smart human came to be?

Rocks my socks:  I absolutely love the sharp wit of this novel and its extended comparisons between humans and robots.  This isn't a world after a robot uprising--this is a world where robots were here first and humans are a recent invention.  The way Messina draws comparisons between robots and humans throughout the novel is clever and insightful.  Much like how human teenagers go through changes that make them emotionally unstable, robots in this world go through a series of upgrades and the 13th is known to be particularly difficult to integrate.  Henry has a sort of virus that can make processing information at school difficult for him in a clear analogy to human learning differences.  The way this is described with such immediacy will ring true with many students.  Little touches such as the descriptions in the human instruction manual kept me chuckling throughout, but there's also a real emotional core to the novel and a sense of adventure as they go off to break into the motherboard.

Rocks in my socks:  The secondary characters are a bit flat and the plot fairly standard, much like the video games that Henry loves playing.

Every book its reader:  I'd give this to fans of robots, humor, and video games.  The action never gets too intense--the humor and robot perspective keep it pretty light--and there's no romance.  I'd say it's fine for 3rd grade and up.


Lynn Messina has her own website.

There's a great book trailer on YouTube:

Source: school library

Henry & the Incredibly Incorrigible, Inconveniently Intelligent Smart Human by L.A. Messina: buy it or check it out today!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Dog Called Homeless

A Dog Called Homeless

Book talk:  Cally used to be a real chatterbox, but after she sees her mother's ghost and no one believes her, she decides to stop talking.  What's the point if no one will listen?  Even as she stops, life keeps moving around her.  Her family has to move into a tiny apartment, her best friend betrays her, a neighbor teaches her a new way of talking, and she develops a special bond with a homeless dog.  If she wants to make a difference in their lives, she's going to have to learn how to make her father listen.

Rocks my socks:  I have a soft spot for Irish Wolfhounds, so I naturally enjoyed reading a book that features one so prominently.  I also liked the neighbor character who is blind and deaf and has a lot of spunk and wisdom. Overall this is a sweet, heart-warming story.

Rocks in my socks: I'm more inclined to shelve this under fantasy than realistic fiction.  The world they live in where everything miraculously works out bears little resemblance to reality, even leaving aside the bits that involve the mother's ghost.  Additionally, while I love Irish Wolfounds I don't think the book accurately portrays or takes into account the major time and financial commitment required to own one.  Adopting one should not be a surprise and is not a decision to be taken lightly.

Every book its reader:  I'd give this to students in 3rd to 5th grade looking for a sweet story.  Dog-lovers will enjoy the book in particular.


Sarah Lean has a website

Here's some more info on Irish Wolfhounds for the curious:

Source: copy provided as part of faculty & staff book club

A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean: buy it or check it out today!