Lucy Green Robotics Queen is a science fiction novel centred on the escapades of 12-year-old Lucy, a young inventor and problem-solver faced with an ecological disaster when the usually abundant crops of local gardeners fail to materialise after catastrophe strikes the bee population.
Lucy is well-known for coming up with inventive mechanical solutions to common problems affecting her community, such as a machine designed to find and retrieve lost plimsolls in school. Inspired by her Grammy, who is a retired robotics engineer, and supported by her friends in the Goodall Gang (named after Jane Goodall), Lucy is used to being at the forefront of all technological activity in her school, even though not all her ideas work out as planned! However, she has a rival: Zemin Li, the genius grandson of her grandmother’s friend and fellow engineer, Manchu. When both Grammy’s and Manchu’s gardens suddenly fail to produce their usual crop of award-winning fruit and vegetables, Lucy is determined to solve the mystery and save the day before Zemin can. She realises that the bees who usually act as pollinators have been struck by an unknown affliction and are now bald, which has had a devastating effect on local plant-life. Despite her best efforts, Lucy is unable to come up with a solution on her own, but over time comes to realise that if she learns to collaborate and recognise and value the complementary strengths of not only her friends but also her rivals then together they will all be able to achieve so much more for the good of the neighbourhood and beyond.
Lucy Green Robotics Queen is part of a range of books being developed by the Ignite Hubs to encourage children to think about careers in STEM. It is primarily a book about ecological stability and the way technology can offer solutions to life’s problems, but an equally important aspect is the focus on what it means to be collaborative and how people can work better together than in competition. The story is engaging and doesn’t shy away from using challenging vocabulary. In addition to learning to work together, and the potential for technology to solve the problems of the future, there are a range of themes touched upon in the five chapters, including the environment, disability, managing conflict, family and friendship. There is a helpful glossary of key science terms at the end of the novel, along with a brief author biography.
Overall, this is a book for confident readers aged 10+ to read independently and can also be enjoyed as a guided reading text or class novel. It could also be used as a literary stimulus for science lessons looking at life sciences, for PSHE and as a prompt for discussions about future careers.
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