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Watchdog
Cover of Watchdog
Watchdog
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Thirteen-year-old twins Vick and Tara have built an incredible machine—a loyal robotic watchdog named Daisy. But, when local crime boss Ms. Alba schemes to add Daisy to her robot army, Vick and Tara must go to great lengths to protect their prized pet. Because Daisy is more than just any robot—she's their constant protector, and together the three make a great team.
Vick and Tara are determined to stop the mob from tearing their little family apart. And they might just succeed! Sure, the evil Ms. Alba has more robot watchdogs, but none are as smart—or as faithful—as their Daisy. Plus, if things get too dangerous, Tara could always upgrade their pet. With her mechanical skills, she could make Daisy bigger, stronger, and a lot more intimidating!
Thirteen-year-old twins Vick and Tara have built an incredible machine—a loyal robotic watchdog named Daisy. But, when local crime boss Ms. Alba schemes to add Daisy to her robot army, Vick and Tara must go to great lengths to protect their prized pet. Because Daisy is more than just any robot—she's their constant protector, and together the three make a great team.
Vick and Tara are determined to stop the mob from tearing their little family apart. And they might just succeed! Sure, the evil Ms. Alba has more robot watchdogs, but none are as smart—or as faithful—as their Daisy. Plus, if things get too dangerous, Tara could always upgrade their pet. With her mechanical skills, she could make Daisy bigger, stronger, and a lot more intimidating!
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  • Kindle Book
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Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
    740
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    3 - 4

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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    Chapter 1

    Vick never got used to the smell. Usually he stopped noticing bad smells after a while, but the eye-watering stink of mountains of trash baking in the blazing August sun was so bad, it made every breath an ordeal. And then there were the flies buzzing around Vick's face, landing on him with their tickly legs. He never got used to them, either.

    Vick plunged his hand into the hole he was digging in the mountain of cardboard, plastic, dirty diapers, rotting bits of meat, used coffee filters, old socks, sticky wrappers, and unidentifiable sludge. There were already holes in the gloves he'd bought last week, so his bare fingertips were covered in filth he didn't even want to think about. His back ached.

    It wasn't even noon yet. Still hours to go.

    His fingers brushed something hard and metallic. Vick dug faster, widening the hole. By now he could tell immediately when he'd struck something with potential. Tossing handfuls of trash aside, he exposed a blood-red tube. He tugged it free, then brushed crud off of it.

    It was L‑shaped, with fine wires trailing out of one end. He held it up and looked around for his twin sister. "Tara? Is this any good?"

    Vick scanned the dump, which stretched for three blocks of West Town, with trash piled to the third floor of the surrounding semicondemned redbrick tenement buildings and spilling down side streets. Dozens of people were working the mounds, dragging sacks of salvage behind them.

    Mert, the woman who owned Peary Pawn and Title, had told Vick the dump started when the city ran out of money and couldn't afford to send garbage trucks around to pick up people's trash anymore. At first everyone tossed their trash out windows onto the sidewalk; then they realized it was no fun to smell their trash all day, so they started dumping it in spots where there weren't many people around to complain.

    Tara was nowhere in sight. Huffing, Vick trudged around the base of the mound he was working on, arms spread to aid his balance as his feet sank into the trash.

    She was sitting on a filthy mattress on the opposite side of the mound, waving off the flies and laughing as she watched a TV show on a decrepit handheld with a missing back panel. Vick had no clue how she'd gotten it working, but it didn't surprise him. Wild audience laughter drifted from the handheld. Vick guessed she was watching Boffo, a reality show where people gave domestic robots tricky orders so the robots would do the wrong things and look stupid. It was one of her favorite shows.

    "Tara."

    She didn't hear him. Classic Tara.

    He raised his voice. "Tara."

    Her smile vanished. She went to hide the handheld behind her back, then realized it was pointless.

    "Remember what those first weeks were like? Remember being really, really hungry?"

    "Of course I remember." She reached up and twirled her hair nervously, glaring into empty space to Vick's right. She almost never looked to his left, always his right. And she never, ever, looked directly at him.

    "If we don't work, there's no dinner."

    "I know that. Do you think I don't know that? I know that."

    "Then put the handheld away and help me." Vick held up the component he'd unearthed. "Is this any good?"

    Tara rose and trudged toward him, her pet robot hopping along at her heels looking like a cross between a big rat and a rag doll, its cobbled-together parts all mismatched, its face nothing but a snout and eyes on scuffed silver metal. "Let me see."

    Vick...

About the Author-
  • Will McIntosh is the author of several adult novels; many short stories; one young adult novel, Burning Midnight; and one middle-grade novel. He won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story and was a finalist for the Locus Award, and his novel Love Minus Eighty was an ALA-RUSA Reading List Selection for Science Fiction. Watchdog is his first novel for middle-grade readers. Will lives with his wife and twin children in Williamsburg, Virginia. Check out willmcintosh.net and follow him on Twitter at @WillMcIntoshSF to learn about his other sci-fi adventures.
Reviews-
  • School Library Journal

    July 1, 2017

    Gr 4-6-In a near-future, robot-filled Chicago, things are tough for Vick and Tara, twins who are Brumbies, or homeless kids. Like others of their kind, they scavenge the city dump in search of scrap to sell or that Tara, who has autism, uses to make robots that are better than anyone else's. Her talent gets them in trouble, though, when she creates a creature that ruthless forces will stop at nothing to capture. The twins must team up with a band of other techie Brumbies to outwit Ms. Alba and her henchmen, some of them fearsome robots, and find the safety they've craved since becoming orphans. Middle graders will enjoy the robot elements as well as the fast-paced action as the twins evade violence and mete out some of their own. McIntosh, author of adult speculative fiction and short stories, crafts a credible world with relatable characters. VERDICT This compelling drama with cool tech themes and bad guys getting their comeuppance is a winner; hand to fans of Michael Buckley's "NERDS" and Stuart Gibbs's "Spy School" series.-Henrietta Verma, National Information Standards Organization, Baltimore

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    August 15, 2017
    In a nasty, hyperstratified future, white twins Vick and Tara are on their own in the scary streets of Chicago, where economic disaster has laid waste to the poorer sections of the city.Although Tara is autistic--communicative but faced with worsening symptoms--she has a remarkable talent for designing the robot watchdogs that everyone uses for a variety of purposes. The pair scrounge for saleable electronics all day long in the blocks-long dump that's developed in their part of the city, and at night Tara tinkers. But after she finds an amazing chip among the debris, she crafts a seemingly sentient little critter, Daisy. Daisy's astonishing capabilities immediately attract the attention of the cruel overlord of the Chicago robotics world, Ms. Alba, an Asian woman who uses a group of imprisoned, mostly child workers to turn out watchdog robots. Her minions kidnap the siblings, but with Daisy's help they break out. It's only after they begin to accept help from other street kids that the believably portrayed Vick and Tara start to make a bit of progress. The grim setting is vividly depicted, and the clever-kid-against-mean-adult trope is both plausible and very satisfying. The fast-paced narrative readily conveys the looming sense of ever present danger. Engaging, suspenseful, and with nearly all the vivid fighting confined to robots, this gritty tale is perfect for a younger audience than most post-apocalyptic stories. (Post-apocalyptic adventure. 10-14)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Kirkus Reviews A Junior Library Guild Selection

    "The grim setting is vividly depicted, and the clever-kid-against-mean-adult trope is both plausible and very satisfying. The fast-paced narrative readily conveys the looming sense of ever present danger. Engaging, suspenseful, and with nearly all the vivid fighting confined to robots, this gritty tale is perfect for a younger audience than most post-apocalyptic stories."
  • Margaret Stohl, author of Marvel's Black Widow: Forever Red and coauthor of the internationally bestselling Beautiful Creatures series "This fast-paced sci-fi adventure with an unsettling dystopian atmosphere should find easy appeal among a wide range of readers."
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    Random House Children's Books
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