Book: Celia’s Robot
Author: Margaret Chang
Cybil Book #15
For her birthday, fifth-grader Celia Chow receives an unusual present: a prototype worker robot, a fantastical invention designed by her dad and able to do nearly everything—including keeping Celia focused, whether she is practicing the violin, doing homework, or cleaning her room. Though Robot is somewhat bossy, with her parents often away working, Celia increasingly appreciates its companionship. Because her father worries about competitors trying to steal it, Robot is supposed to be a secret, though Celia is allowed to bring it to school, where, after helping rescue a cat, Robot’s photo appears in the newspaper. Soon after, Robot goes missing, and aided by her sometimes contentious classmate Tim, Celia sets off on a suspenseful, somewhat dangerous quest to find it. Celia is an appealing protagonist whose first-person narrative reflects her Chinese American background and sympathetically conveys the impact of her parents’ too-frequent absences. Overall, an entertaining and thoughtful read. Grades 4-6. –Shelle Rosenfeld
This was another book that I think my 6th grade students would like. This book is just a good old feel good story. Celia has a father who has constructed the ultimate helpful robot. Celia has a hard time getting out bed, cleaning her room, doing her homework, etc. She is the typical adolescent. Her father builds her a computer that only responds to her. She can teach it tricks like picking up her room, French braiding her hair, and several other helpful tricks. At first, she has a hard time with the robot because it refuses to let her do anything but what is expected. She must come home and do her homework, clean the dishes, set out her clothes before bed. However, the routine the robot expects her to follow helps her stay organized and Celia realizes that doing these things makes life easier. That is the one part of the book that drove me crazy. She did not really fight the system. She was just fine with changing and it was never a problem. What adolescent does not fight cleaning their room or their closet?
All stories must have a conflict. The conflict here is that the father wants nobody to find out about the robot he created. There are people who want to copy this robot and make mad cash. Needless to say that the robot is discovered and several events pursue from this point.
For students that want a good light hearted read this is your book. Nothing to bad happens, nothing violent, nothing too mean, just enough to create a nice storyline about growing up, getting noticed, and finding out who your friends are. I did feel like it took too long to get any real conflict going. I loved the idea and would love to have a robot like this for my house. It was just a little to “happy” for me. I needed something a little more severe to happen. However, not everyone thinks like me and this book could be perfect for them. Check it out!