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*A Boy and His Bot* by Daniel H. Wilson- young readers fantasy book review
A Boy and His Bot
by Daniel H. Wilson
Ages 9-12 192 pages Bloomsbury USA January 2011 Hardcover    

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to have your very own robot that you could command to do whatever you wanted? It would come in handy for a myriad of situations, like making banana splits, doing your chores for you, battling bullies, and - as the main character and boy hero of Daniel H. Wilson’s wonderful novel A Boy and His Bot finds out - rescuing one’s grandfather from the tentacled clutches of a power-hungry robot bent on conquering the Earth.

Can sixth-grader Code Lightfoot and Gary, his Atomic Slaughterbot, make it to the Beamstalk in Celestial City and locate the Robonomicon, outwit the evil Immortalis, save the robots of Mekhos from being demolished, and rescue Code’s grandfather from certain doom? Then there’s the slight problem of getting home...

The “last field trip on the last day of sixth grade” is to a place that Code has often gone to before on field trips: Mek Mound. The Indian mounds “were built thousands of years before the Egyptian pyramids and had once been covered with temples and fortresses.”

Code used to visit the mounds with his anthropologist grandfather, John Lightfoot, but they’re also the place where his grandfather disappeared. Code can’t help wondering if his grandfather’s disappearance is related to the mounds. He finds out soon enough that the mounds hide many secrets.

Alice followed a white rabbit down its hole. Code’s journey begins with seeing a flying dragonfly-sized object that shoots colored light beams at all of his classmates. It shoots Code, too, but the beam is harmless. When Code follows it into a hollow tree trunk, the ground below him gives away, and Code and the tiny robot – that’s what the thing is - find themselves in another dimension and another land: Mekhos.

Mekhos is every bit as strange and cool as Wonderland is to Alice, and full of potential danger. Everything there - even the grass and trees - are robots. The only organic being there is the king, who is a human.

In the Odd Woods, Code learns from a friendly infinipede (a gigantic robot centipede but with an infinite number of legs factory robots keep adding more to) that the King of Mekhos used to be nice, but something has changed him. Humans long ago “created Mekhos as a laboratory. A big experiment.”

The infinipede warns Code about some of the dangers he might face here, like nanobots, robots that are “smaller than dust, that will make you wish you’d never been invented. They can wriggle through your outer casing and tear you apart from the inside.” He tells Code that “Mekhos can be a very nasty place.”

The infinipede also tells Code about the Robonomicon, “a sacred relic” held captive by the king, and that the king “has decided that we shall all be demolished.” The day that it’s supposed to happen is called “Disassembly.” Code has only four days to find his grandfather, rescue him, and save the robots of Mekhos from being disassembled.

When the infinipede tells Code that the king’s name is John Lightfoot, Code realizes that the only way he can rescue his grandfather is to somehow put a stop to the evil plans of Immortalis. But, how can one boy, even with the help of an Atomic Slaughterbot, hope to travel thousands of dangerous miles in such a short time? He has to try, because if Mekhos falls and the robots are demolished, that leaves the way open for Immortalis to attack Earth next.

A Boy and His Bot is a winning combination of suspense and fun about a boy who lands in a mechanical Wonderland of robots that would awe even Alice. The perfect mix of reality and fantasy, along with Code’s search for his grandfather and the adventures and dangers he faces along the way, make for a very entertaining novel. I’m looking forward to reading more from Daniel H. Wilson in the coming years, and I hope Code returns to Mekhos, like Alice to Wonderland, in a sequel.
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