Monday, October 26, 2015

Nonfiction Monday: Robot World: Robots in the Factory by Jenny Fretland VanVoorst

This title is from the new imprint, Pogo, from fairly new publisher Jump! My preference is for their younger imprint, Bullfrog. I have a lot of very enthusiastic fans of those titles. The Pogo titles are ok, but they don't really stand out from the crowd of series nonfiction in my opinion.

Honestly, this is the title I liked the least and some of that is from an adult perspective. Are there topics that don't work well for young children? I think there are and they should either be tackled with more nuances or left until the kids are older.

Robots in the factory is one of a four title series, "Robot World". The book starts with several statements about how robots are better than people, never make mistakes, and do work that people can't or don't want to do. The book explains how robots are programmed to do different jobs, that programming is a set of instructions which are so detailed "there is no room for error." Different aspects and tools of a robot like wheels, sensors and "arms" are then described. In the final chapter we "meet the robots" and see the different types used in a car factory.

The attached activity is to make a robot by "programming" a friend. There is a glossary, index, and link to the publisher's website.

My main caveat with this book is that there is enough text and complexity, in my opinion, to introduce critical thinking skills. I don't know much of anything about robotics but even I can reason from point A to point B and if a human is programming the robot there certainly is "room for error". I don't like the "robots are perfect and wonderful!" without even a page mentioning the possible disadvantages. If the book had simple been explaining how robots work, I wouldn't have expected more a more even-handed approach, but when there were so many statements made about the benefits of robots aside from the simple "how they work and how they're used" facts, I expect more pros and cons.

Verdict: I'd pass on this one. Even young kids need to learn some critical thinking skills and while robots are popular, I want kids to think about what they're reading and not just swallow statements whole.

ISBN: 9781620312186; Published 2015 by Pogo/Jump!; Review copy provided by the publisher

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