HarperCollins/Harper. Oct. 2019. 208p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062686077.
Gr 3-7–Cog is a robot who looks like a young boy, designed to learn about the world around him. Under the patient guidance of Gina, an offbeat engineer, Cog feels safe and supported. When Cog decides to leave the house without Gina’s permission, a terrible accident lands him in a lab run by scientists with methods far more clinical than Gina’s. While Gina treats Cog like a member of the family, these scientists see him and other robots as specimens to be examined and tested. When Cog decides to break out and find his real home, enlisting the help of other robots in the facility, he learns that friendship, family, and community aren’t just for humans. This book does not shy away from dark themes; from the people who do not help Cog after his accident to the scientists who treat robots poorly, the book has many examples of the problems that can occur when people lack empathy for those around them. However, Cog is an amusing narrator and the story deftly balances the significant questions of consciousness and mortality with humor and action. Though the races of the human characters go undisclosed, Cog and other robots are described as having dark skin.
VERDICT A sensitive and thought-provoking early exercise in empathy and belonging for fans of Peter Brown’s The Wild Robot.

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