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Robot Rebellion

Illustrated by Talitha Shipman



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About The Book

This is the fourth book in the Astrid the Astronaut chapter book series about a young girl determined to be the first hard-of-hearing astronaut in space!

When Astrid and the rest of the Shooting Stars find out that their teacher, Ms. Ruiz, is about to celebrate a big birthday, they band together to create the perfect gift. Her big day happens to be the same as the upcoming robotics competition and they decide to do something there. With the help of Astrid’s big sister, Stella, they program their robot to do a fun dance and give Ms. Ruiz a sweet surprise.

But on the day of the competition, the data for the Shooting Stars robot somehow gets mixed up with another one! Will their fun present end up being a major malfunction?


Chapter 1: A Visitor at Night CHAPTER 1 A VISITOR AT NIGHT

“Which episode was your favorite?” I asked my best friend, Hallie. I smoothed out my sleeping bag in front of the TV in the living room.

She put a finger to her chin. “Hmm… the one where the kitten cadets played jump rope. They were in zero gravity. The rope got all tangled!”

Hallie tossed her pillow onto a pile of blankets. She didn’t like sleeping bags. For sleepovers she just burrowed into blankets like a bunny.

I grinned. “And then they bumped the controls. The spaceship was heading for a black hole!”

“And AstroCat had to untangle them. Before they all got sucked in!”

“But then Tabby-Droid saw that it was really just a blob of Rolfo’s blackberry jam on the screen. It wasn’t a black hole at all!”

We burst into giggles. Season five of AstroCat had dropped a week ago. We’d each watched it once already. Now we were going to watch it together.

I thought about Tabby-Droid. He could walk, talk, and fly a spaceship. In Shooting Stars, the after-school space-themed club I was in, we were about to start a new Astro Mission. Ms. Ruiz had said we’d be coding a real robot. Tabby-Droid was a robot. Would it act like him?

I grabbed my TV necklace—a small box attached to a loop. It worked with my hearing aids to help me hear the TV better. Next to me, Hallie snuggled into her blankets. Using the remote, I turned on the show.

Mom poked her head in. “You girls all set?”

We nodded.

“I’m heading to bed. Lights out by ten, okay?”

“Okay, Mom.”

“Okay, Mrs. Peterson.”

Mom headed down the hall to her and Dad’s room. My big sister, Stella, was in the room we shared, probably texting her friends. Since I had a friend over, we got to sleep in the living room.

AstroCat’s theme song started up. Slipping my TV necklace around my neck, I pressed the button on the box. But the song still sounded fuzzy, so I tried again. The theme song burst into the best part: “… AaaastroCat can save the day! She can always lead the way!…” The box still wasn’t working, but I knew the song.

Hallie was singing along. Then I heard, “AAAAAAAAH!” She jumped up onto the couch.

I paused the show. “What’s wrong?”

Hallie pointed down the dark hallway. “You didn’t get a pet, did you?”

I scrambled up beside her. “N-n-noooo.”

Down the hall, something was creeping toward us. The whole condo was dark, except for the TV. It cast weird shadows as the thing got to the living room.

“It’s coming closer!” Hallie hissed. “What if it’s a rat? Our neighbor has them. They have red beady eyes and—”

“It’s not moving like a rat.” I squinted at it.

The thing passed through a bit of light from a window.

“But it’s furry like a rat!” Hallie whispered. “We should tell your parents.”

“We’d have to go past it to get to them.”

The thing stopped. Tiny red eyes blinked at the wall. Then it turned toward the kitchen.

“See?” Hallie whispered. “Rats go for food.”

But something was off about this “rat.”

I stepped off the couch.

“Astrid!” Hallie grabbed my arm. “What are you doing?”

But I shook her off. I put a finger to my lips. The thing was in the kitchen now, around the corner of the wall. There were bumping noises, and then nothing. I tiptoed closer. And closer. And—

The thing spun around to face me. A clawlike hand gripped a pack of chips. “Want a snack?” it asked.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaa!” I vaulted back to the couch as Hallie and I both screamed.

Laughter bubbled out from the hall. My sister lowered her phone. “That was the best! I wish I’d had better light for the video.”

My cheeks heated. “Stella! That was so not cool.”

“You scared us!” Hallie said.

Stella made herself stop laughing. “I’m sorry. Just… Do you know how long it took to write the code to get him to do that?”

I frowned, flicking on the lights. I stooped to pull off a furry brown hat with eyeholes. Under it was a blue-and-white robot. It had two treads for feet and two claw-arms. Plus a small screen on its tummy.

“What is it?” Hallie asked.

“It’s the newest Code-a-Bot.” Stella beamed. “He’s called ‘Cory.’ He’s a super high-tech, ultra-expensive robot. I borrowed him from our robotics club.”

About The Author

Rie Neal is a children’s book author who loves all things space. Growing up, she was often dragged on her grandfather’s unauthorized tours of NASA’s Ames Research Center, which she didn’t appreciate enough at the time. Eventually, though, she became a full-blown space fan, and began to write space-related books for kids. She also has a doctor of audiology degree from the University of Iowa and is nationally certified as an audiologist through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Today, she lives in the Silicon Valley with her husband and kids, where they drag people on (authorized) tours of the NASA Ames visitor center. Learn more about her books at or connect with her on Instagram (@RieNealWriter).

About The Illustrator

Talitha Shipman is a picture book illustrator from Indiana. Her favorite subjects to paint are wild kids and wild animals. Nature inspires Talitha’s painting, and she hopes her work encourages curiosity and creativity in children of all ages. Her books include the Sydney Taylor Honor recipient Everybody Says Shalom by Leslie Kimmelman, American Farm Bureau Recommended Read Applesauce Day by Lisa J. Amstutz, and 2019 IPPY Silver Medalist First Snow by Nancy Viau. Her debut author-illustrator picture book was Finding Beauty. Talitha lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with her husband and their five-year-old wild child, Coral.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Aladdin (February 28, 2023)
  • Length: 112 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534481565
  • Grades: 1 - 4
  • Ages: 6 - 9
  • Lexile ® 570L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®
  • Fountas & Pinnell™ O These books have been officially leveled by using the F&P Text Level Gradient™ Leveling System

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