MAYA AND THE ROBOT

Since kindergarten, Maya’s been in the same class as her best friends, MJ and Jada—but not this year. And the thought of making new friends offers little comfort. One day, while helping out at Mr. Mac’s neighborhood store, Maya discovers an unfinished robot named Ralph that was designed by Christopher, Mr. Mac’s son. Maya is smart and dreams about universities like Stanford (which Christopher attended) that have big robotics labs. When Mr. Mac allows Maya to take the robot home, she hopes that finishing Ralph for her school science fair project will bring her one step closer to showing everyone her science prowess and maybe even solving her friendship problem. Of course, life with a robot is anything but simple, and along the way Maya learns important things about robotics as well as friendship, grief, and loss. In Maya, Ewing has created an instantly sympathetic character who shares a special bond with a really cool robot. Maya’s parents aren’t together, and while she lives primarily with her mother, her relationship with her father is loving and close. The dialogue in the novel is especially authentic, funny, and moving. Almeda’s illustrations are exuberant and expressive, adding to the emotional texture of the story. Maya and most major characters are Black, and they live in a close-knit, multicultural neighborhood.

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