Review: Banneker Bones and the Giant Robot Bees

Banneker Bones and the Giant Robot Bees by Robert Kent, illustrated by Adam Smith (Middle Grade Ninja Press, 2014)

I’m trying to make a practice every year of reviewing a few items that are not part of the larger published cannon of things.  Pieces by independent publishers and authors–things that probably don’t garner near as much attention or publicity.  While sometimes I’d love to devote lots of time to supporting these folks, the truth is my reading schedule is tight and my time is limited, so I’m forced to pick and choose and select a few things to highlight.

Such here is the work of Mr. Robert Kent.  Mr. Kent has created a work that reads a bit like Sherlock Holmes meets Sci Fi pulp  meets Richie Rich in this near future middle grade science fiction adventure.

Ellicott Skullworth is bright enough that he’s been selected to attend one of the most prestigious schools around–with a full scholarship.  In order to attend said school, however, he’ll be living with his illustrious cousin, Banneker Bones.  Ellicott’s never even met Banneker before, and the luxurious, high-tech world of the Bones’ lifestyle is a far cry from his working class home and upbringing.  It all might seem like a dream come true–except for Banneker himself.  This quirky genius has no patience or interest in his cousin and might just actively be trying to get rid of him.  Not that Banneker is exactly the bee knees when it comes to friendship–this arrogant and idiosyncratic individual tends to find it difficult to get or keep any sort of friend.  But things begin to change when Banneker and Ellicott encounter real-life giant robot bees.  These gigantic robots not only seem to have it in for the boys, but they fly off with Ellicott’s friend Reggie!  Ellicott’s determined to rescue his friend, and Banneker dreams of being lauded as a hero.  Now the two will have to work together with a variety of high tech gadgets in their search for Reggie and the mysterious bees.  But what they uncover may have far more serious repercussions than merely a missing friend!

For those who enjoy futuristic gadgets like rocket packs, holographic gaming, and all sorts of robots, this is chock full of just those sorts of things.  Banneker makes for a very Holmes-like character to follow, mainly self-interested, incredibly bright but with no filter on what he says, and not quite comfortable with regular human interaction.   It lands on Ellicott to stick by his cousin (in true Watson-like fashion) and help him through the dangers and mysteries that lie ahead.  The author gives readers a very satisfying sort of adventure story–one that surely hints at more stories of Ellicott and Banneker to follow.

The story does take a bit of time to get up to speed–the early chapters prior to Ellicott’s arrival at the Bones’ household feel like an unnecessary bit of padding.  Since the story and action don’t really take off until Ellicott meets Banneker, these chapters may discourage more reluctant readers from reading far enough to really get into the story.   The time spent on Ellicott’s old school, his mother, and his father may be a very valid attempt at giving us Ellicott’s background, but it comes off as rather separate from the rest of the story.  I think the details we needed about Ellicott could have been introduced withing the narrative  without relying on this early part.  That said, the rest is highly entertaining and interesting story that  dives into its subject matter with passion and enthusiasm.

Note: A copy was provided by the author.

Publisher:Middle Grade Ninja Press

Publication Date: October 2014

ISBN13:    9781502422665

Recommended for grades 4 and up.


About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on May 17, 2015, in General Posts, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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