Summary: Maya and the Robot
Maya and the Robot is Eve L. Ewing’s debut middle grade book. It centers a young Black girl, Maya who’s entering the fifth grade. She’s disappointed when she’s placed in a different class than her two best friends, Jada and MJ. Quickly, it seems like they’re forming a new friend group and barely spending time with her, especially since they don’t even have the same lunch period. But things begin to look up when Maya finds a broken down robot in the neighborhood store where she helps out. After setting the robot up to work, Maya suddenly has a new best friend, but how long will this last? And what happens when the robot, Ralph malfunctions?
This is really well done. Maya is a determined young girl with a passion for STEM. She likes science and engineering and has strong convictions about what she wants to do with her life. Her parents appear to be separated as they live in different houses, but their relationship is amicable and Maya gets one-on-one time with each parent.
I loved all the scenes with Ralph, the robot, and I found the explanations around his invention to be fairly plausible and realistic. Maya does a lot of brainstorming to get him set up and I loved Ralph’s personality and his capacity for learning. I learned a lot of engineering stuff from this book. Maya’s friend struggles are realistic and I enjoyed the narrative arc and resolution.
This story also focuses on Maya’s neighborhood, gun violence, and her relationship with the sweet shopkeeper, Mr. Mac. Finally, it’s worth noting that this is short, illustrated (about one illustration per chapter), and perfect for younger middle grade readers.
Overall: Maya and the Robot
Maya and the Robot is an engaging, illustrated middle grade book with strong STEM connections, about the struggles of forming and maintaining friendships. Besides Maya’s time with the robot, this story also features a predominantly Black cast and community, themes of parental separation, gun violence and a sweet intergenerational friendship. I would highly recommend this to fans of STEM books, robot stories, and books about friendship. Perfect for kids in the third grade and up.
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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.