Friday, September 23, 2016

Cyborg Ballhog: Soccer Shocker! (Project Droid #2) by Nancy Krulik and Amanda Burwasser

"I hate Fiber Flakes," I called down to Mom. "Isn't there anything sweet for breakfast?"

"Logan, I'm busy!" my mother called from her lab. "Just add some dates and nuts to your cereal."

"I can do it!" shouted Java. He grabbed the scissors and began cutting up the calendar on the wall.

"What are you doing!" I shouted

"Getting dates for your cereal," Java said. "Here's November 17." He dropped the calendar dates into my cereal bowl.

It's not easy having a robot around, especially when you have to keep your classmates believing that he's just an ordinary third grader. But Java (James Alexander Victor Applebaum) is an android, the subject of Logan's mom's Project Droid, and now she's testing her soccer programming by signing Java up for Logan's team, the Purple Wombats. After having to cover up for the mess Java made of the class science fair, Logan is tired of trying to keep the other kids from noticing that Java is NOT human. And besides, Logan is the top scorer on the team (he scored their one point against the Lemon Yellow Lemurs, current holders of he worst team in the league title). Still, Mom is set on testing her coding, and maybe Java can help them beat the class bullies, Sherry and Jerry Silverspoon, and their team the Red Polar Bears.

And does he ever! When Java comes in to sub for Stanley, he dazzles the Bears with his lightning moves.

What was he doing?

I heard the ball whack Java in the butt.

I watched the ball soar right over the heads of the Red Polar Bears! The ball slammed Jerry Silverspoon right in the stomach... and rolled right into the net.

The game is a blowout, with Java scoring 67 goals. Logan loves seeing the Silverspoon twins go down in defeat, but he's also miffed with Java for hogging the ball throughout the whole game. He begins to think of a way to get even.

But when the toilet floods the bathroom and Java's battery is waterlogged, Logan realizes that he's the one who must take over the scoring in the big game with the Orange Tree Frogs. Is there any way he can do what Java does?

In the second book in their Project Droid series, Nancy Krulik and Amanda Burwasser give Logan his shot at showing how a real soccer star passes the ball, heroically giving his day-dreamy friend Stanley the chance to score the winning point, in Soccer Shocker!: Project Droid 2 (Sky Pony Press, 2016). In addition to a bit of gameplay fun, the authors put in a plug for fair play and telling the truth, except of course, when it comes to revealing the truth of Java's true identity.

Fans of Peggy and Herman Parish's Amelia Bedelia (I Can Read Book) series will find the similarly pun-puzzled and idiom-befuddled Java, who puts calendar dates and metal nuts in cereal and gives Logan the cold shoulder by dumping the team's ice water bucket over his head, a good source of giggles along the way. Illustrator Mike Moran's cartoons drive home the humor with his silly illustrations, such as Java's proffered, protein-packed peanut butter and jellyfish sandwiches as halftime snacks for the hapless horrified and gagging Wombats.

"Funny enough to keep fledgling readers turning pages," says Kirkus Reviews.

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