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BOOK REVIEW:

Spare parts : four Mexican American teenagers, one ugly robot, and the battle for the American dream

Call Number: 
621.80973 D262
Who builds robots? Hypothetically, anyone with drive and talent could pick up a robot building book from the library (see books listed below), borrow a soldering iron from a friend, and use spare parts to put together something that could fight any of the robots on that television show BattleBots, or compete with robots in the robot building competitions taking place throughout the country.
 
But when four economically disadvantaged Mexican American high school students entered the MATE Center competition to develop underwater robots, they knew that the deck was stacked against them. Not only would they be competing against teams from colleges like MIT, schools with more resources and prestige than they could dream of, the teens were also worried about official attention. Most of these boys were in the country illegally, having been brought here as children. They were afraid to travel out of state, or to draw too much attention to themselves, even for doing something amazing. 
 
On one level this book is a robot building version of a sport story, which is great!  An underdog group of competitors comes together, they work together, become friends and eventually family. They face huge challenges with determination, coming up with inventive and quirky solutions. Then competition day comes around and they compete against the favored team. We’ve probably all seen or read stories like that. These particular underdogs will win you over with their determination and wit. The book is full of their creative problem solving, friendships, and competition day suspense.
 
But this is also a story that deals with what comes after the competition, after the high school graduation. No matter how they do in the MATE competition, these boys are in the country illegally. Can they go to college? Can they get jobs? They have amazing skills, and drive, and intelligence. Will they ever get a chance to use them?      
 
    
 
 
 

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