Tin. Wow! This was a joy to read due to it’s fabulous characters who each step into the limelight at various points in the story. A fantastic debut novel by Padraig Kenny.
First off – Robots! Where do I sign up? The story straddles a parallel world with hints to a War World during a time when robots existed while other technological advancements remain rudimentary. The steam punk aspect draws you into a world were robots do roam among us, but to be frank can be a bit rubbish.
At the start we are introduced to Absalom, an illegal engineer, Christopher and a band of robots – Manda, Rob, Jack and Gripper. This band of misfits are eking out a living many repairs and odd jobs unaware of the secret between them. One day that all changes and Christopher is taken against his will. Why? Well that’s part of the fun that I won’t spoil, needless to say his friends won’t stand for that and set off to rescue their friend.
In a world steeped in the history of robots and how they are considered dangerous (hence the 4 laws that greet the reader at the start), it is the humans who are portrayed as the most deadliest of creatures and even the lovely Estelle opens the readers eyes to the cruel ways of humans.
The real joy of this book is in the robot characters. Each steps forward to be a ‘hero’ or reach their potential. Some like Gripper and Round Rob show what it means to be truly brave. Some like Jack show a great determination to be more than a machine.
Although the wonderful cover evokes The Wizard of OZ, the story is slightly different in that the journeys that are taken are so varied. There is the journey the friends undertake to save Christopher as well as his journey of self-discovery. Round Rob’s journey is a one that touched my heart. These and the other character arcs ensures that this is a tale for children that is satisfying and sophisticated in equal measure.
Now for the teacher bit. As it is a wonderful story, there are no doubts that you can use this text to develop your children as writers. The structure of ‘flashbacks’ through Christoper’s memories is an interesting way to explore a way of revealing character history. Links to DT and computing are so clear that it would be a shame to not create your own ‘mechanicals’. Coding is a very tricky aspect of the curriculum and although not explain the rules that dictate over the likes of Round Rob and co are an excellent starting point for discussions based around such a fascinating subject.
A true delight and hopefully the first of many fantastic books from this gentleman.