House of Robots: Robot Revolution


By James Patterson

With Chris Grabenstein

Illustrated by Juliana Neufeld

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It’s a robot revolt! As Sammy’s inventor mom works on a secret project, he and his sister try to contain the hilarious pranks and chaos of droids on strike.

After a few early glitches in their relationship, Sammy and his “bro-bot” E are now fast friends. In fact, E is such a valued member of the family that the other electronic occupants of the House of Robots are feeling sorely unappreciated. And when Sammy’s inventor mom becomes distracted by a top-secret project, the robots soon begin to fall into disrepair.

Cue a robot revolt, with the droids wreaking harmless havoc in the house! Armed with pranks like glue in the shampoo bottles and flying toast missiles, the robots demand to be cared for. It’s up to Sammy and his disabled sister Maddie to keep the peace until his mom reveals her secret project . . . and why it was worth the wait.


You'd think a house full of robots would run like a well-oiled machine.

You'd be wrong.

I mean it used to run that way. But lately? Everything seems a little out of whack.

Take, for instance, the Groomatron 4000.

It's a high-tech, fully automated robot that's programmed to dry my hair in ten seconds flat. But today, instead of blowing hot air, the Groomatron nearly sucked all the hair off my head! I almost had to go to school bald.

Maybe the Groomatron thinks it's a vacuum cleaner, too.

I need to talk to Mom about that. I'm Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez, and all of the bots in my house were designed and engineered by my mother, Dr. Elizabeth Hayes. She's kind of the absentminded professor/genius type. I'm sure it'll take her all of ten seconds to debug the hair dryer, once she gets around to it.

Meanwhile, at 7:25 a.m., it's off to my sister Maddie's room for breakfast and a quick game of Spine Spinner Trivia, another invention of Mom's that makes it easy to exercise our minds and bodies at the same time.

The Breakfastinator whips up today's special: blueberry pancakes with sausage patties, melted butter, and hot maple syrup.

We wolf down our food and really don't pay too much attention to the fact that our blueberries taste like raisins and the melted butter tastes like burnt cheese and the maple syrup smells like onions. Guess the Breakfastinator is on the fritz, too. Doesn't matter. We're too excited about playing Spine Spinner Trivia, where, if you get an answer wrong, you have to twist your body like a pretzel on a mat decorated with flashing pads of colored light.

Since the mat's a robot (named Matt, of course), it asks the questions, too.

"Maddie, which city is nicknamed the Windy City?" barks Matt's robotic voice, which Mom modeled on my gym teacher, Coach Stringer.

"Chicago!" answers Maddie.

"Correct. Sammy? According to the rhyme, who picked a peck of pickled peppers?"

"Peter Piper!"

"Sorry. The correct answer is Peter Pan."

"Um, no it's not," says Maddie.

"Yes it is," insists the robo-mat. "Left hand to red square, Sammy."


"Drop and give me ten!"

"Ten dollars?"

"Ten push-ups!"

All righty-o. Need to talk to Mom about the glitch in Matt's operating system, too. But not right now, because it's time to head to school.

"C'mon, Sammy!" hollers Dad from downstairs. "C'mon, E. You guys will miss the bus!"

Who's E? My bro-bot. And if he's late for school, Maddie will be, too!

Meet E, short for Egghead.

Mom named him that because he's super intelligent.

He's also my little sister Maddie's eyes, ears, and nose at school. If they're serving beef burritos in the cafeteria, E will let her know how awesome they smell.

"Sorry," I say when I bound down the stairs to the kitchen. "I was sort of tied up in Maddie's room."

"We don't want to be tardy, Samuel," says E, who still sounds a little robot-y when he talks. (Don't worry. We're working on it.)

"¡El tiempo no espera a nadie!" adds my dad. His name is Noah Rodriguez. His family came to America from Mexico. Living with my dad is like living with my own Spanish tutor.

"Time waits for no man," I translate.

"¡Sí! ¡Perfecto!"

"El tiempo también espera a ningún robot," adds E, who, with his newly installed system updates, now understands and speaks Spanish, French, Mandarin, Farsi, and Third-Grade Girl (because Maddie's in the third grade, so E has to know what to squeal at and what to giggle about). "We must make haste, fly like the wind, and shake our tail feathers."

E also has a very extensive built-in vocabulary generator.

Why does Maddie need E to go to school for her?

Well, my sister has something called SCID. That doesn't mean she has a South Carolina ID, like a driver's license or something. SCID is short for severe combined immunodeficiency. Basically, it means Maddie's body has a hard time fighting off any kind of germs. If somebody coughs near her, she'll wind up with a major infection.

Maddie may only be eight, but she's already spent a couple of years in hospitals.

That's why she has to stay home, inside her sterile bedroom, while E goes to school for her.

Yep, Maddie can never leave the house. Actually, she hardly ever leaves her room. For an eight-year-old who loves to do everything, that's really tough.

"It's no biggie," is what Maddie always says when anybody asks her about her condition. But if it were me, if I had to be a boy in a bubble, trust me: it'd be bigger than a biggie. It'd be a huge-ie.

"Cross-referencing my internal GPS monitor and available real-time performance data from the South Bend, Indiana, public school system," reports E, "we should immediately arrange for an alternate mode of transportation to Creekside Elementary."

In other words, we missed the bus. (Like I said, I still need to work with E. Get him to stop using twenty words when four will do.)

"No problem," says Dad. "I'll drive you guys to school this morning in our brand-new electric SUV!"

"Cool," I say.

And it really is, because my mother just invented the most awesome, unbelievably amazing, technologically slick ride in the world! It's like a huge smartphone with wheels.

Trust me: this is going to blow you away.

Our new car is so new, it's experimental.

Instead of "new car smell," it has the aroma of adventure, research, and exploration, all of which sort of smell like a toaster plug after it short-circuits.

After Mom's robots won a major mechatronic football game at the University of Notre Dame, where she's a professor, my parents sold our other new car because they said it was a dinosaur (even though it only had two thousand miles on it).

I guess compared to the electric SUV-EX, any set of wheels would have to be called a dinosaur. Or a clunker. One of those.

"Hey, Sammy! You missed the bus!"

Meet my second best friend since forever, Harry Hunter Hudson, or, as I sometimes call him, Triple H, or just Trip. He would be my number one best friend, but Maddie already has that title.

Since he's here telling me something I already know (which is something he does a lot), this is probably a good time to tell you a little about Trip. And remember, no matter what I say, he's still my best friend who isn't related to me.

Trip is kind of a klutz. Maybe even a goofball. He constantly says the wrong thing to the wrong people at the wrong time. He tells knock-knock jokes at school—during the morning moment of silence. His clothes (including his socks) never match, his backpack makes him look like he's part Tyrannosaurus rex, and every day for lunch he eats the exact same smelly thing: peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches.

He's not exactly popular at school. In fact, he doesn't have too many friends except me.

Then again, I don't have too many friends except him.

And E. Thank goodness we have E.

"Hello, Trip," says my dad. "Did you miss the bus, too?"

"Well, I was at the bus stop when the bus pulled up but I noticed that Sammy wasn't there so I decided to come over here, so yeah, I think I missed it, unless, you know, it's still at the corner waiting for me to come back, but I kind of doubt it even though—" Trip's eyes widen as he admires the electric SUV-EX. "Can the car make more Pop-Tarts?"

"Yeah," I say. "I think so."


"You are welcome to ride to school with us," chirps E. "Unless, of course, you have some objection, Mr. Rodriguez."

"Of course not," says Dad. "The more the merrier. Liz designed this vehicle to seat six. And get this: according to her, one day soon, not a single one of us will have to sit behind the steering wheel! The car will drive itself!"

"Indeed," says E. "It will be a fully autonomous, automatic automobile."

"Will it pick its own radio stations, too?" asks Trip.

"No way," I say. "If it did, we'd have to listen to that stuff Mom likes. Mozart."

"Because Mozart was a genius!" the car exclaims.

Oh, did I forget to mention that the electric SUV-EX also talks?

When we sit down in our seats, the SUV-EX remembers who we are—by our weight, not by anything gross, like how our butts smell. Then it adjusts our seat belts accordingly.

"Good morning, Noah, Egghead, Samuel, and Harry Hunter Hudson. Welcome aboard!"

"Wow," says Trip. "It remembered my butt from that time we all went out to get ice cream."

"Excuse me, Harry Hunter Hudson," the car says in a jolly voice that reminds me of my aunt Jennifer, "but golly, you could choose a better word than butt. How about posterior, derriere, or gluteus maximus?"

"I agree," adds E. "There's no need to be crude, Trip. Remember, a rump roast sounds much better at the butcher shop than a butt roast."

"Okay," says Trip. "Thanks, you guys!"

Yep, our new car does a whole lot more than just give GPS directions. Yesterday, it taught me how to play badminton.

We're about to pull out of the driveway, so I glance up at Maddie's bedroom window.

Just like always, she's there, waving good-bye to us.

McFetch, our robotic and hypoallergenic dog, is up there with her, wagging his tail.

This may sound weird, but even though Maddie's my little sister and, you know, shorter than me, I always look up to her. Even though she's stuck in her room, she never lets it get her down.

"Hang on, guys," says Dad. "We're running late. It's blastoff time!"

He stomps on the gas pedal, but since this car is electric, it doesn't really use gas. So I guess it's just "the pedal."

We cruise up the block without making much noise—well, once the car stops giving Dad driving tips. In fact, the electric SUV is almost completely silent except for its random bird chirps. Mom added those as a safety feature so people could hear us coming.

"Oh, Mr. Rodriguez," says Trip, "I finished those pages you let me read. Your new book is going to be awesome!"

"It's better than awesome!" I say. "It's going to be a comic masterpiece."

"Yes," says E. "It will be a veritable Don Quixote of graphic novels!"

"Who's Don Quixote?" asks Trip. "A friend of yours, Mr. Rodriguez?"

"Don Quixote," says the dashboard, sounding like the smartest girl in class, "is a Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. It was originally published in two volumes: one in 1605, the other in 1615."

"Thank you, Soovee," says Dad.

Soovee is what he calls the electric SUV-EX, usually when he wants it to stop blabbing at him.

"I'm glad you guys like my new book," he says. "I'm almost finished with it."

"Well, please hurry, sir," says Trip. "I can't wait to see what happens next to the Ninja Manatees on Mars."

In case you didn't know, my father, Noah Rodriguez, is also the world-famous Japanese manga artist Sasha Nee, the guy who created the super-cool series Hot and Sour Ninja Robots. Dad's created a bunch of other graphic novels, too. Some hits. Some misses.

Dad glances up into the rearview mirror to look at Trip and me in the backseat.

"So how are things going on your science project, boys?"


Trip and I exchange glances.

The science project.

Talk about mistakes.

Trip and I are working together on an amazing idea for the upcoming science fair at Creekside Elementary.

If we can pull it off, we'll be famous. Superstars of science. No, superheroes of science. Like Iron Man!

Then again, it might just turn into a total train wreck, which is what it's sort of been ever since we started working on it. Fortunately, before I have to say, "Well, Dad, our science project happens to be a complete and total disaster," the SUV starts blabbing again.

"I'm sure Sammy will," says E. "However, I can predict, with ninety-nine percent certainty, that Trip will be eating a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich."

"Actually," says Trip, "today I'm going with banana and peanut butter."

"I will make a note for future car rides," says Soovee. "Oh Samuel? You'll be pleased to hear that the Fighting Irish of the University of Notre Dame are a two-point favorite in their football game this Saturday."


"And Mr. Rodriguez?"


"You need to pick up a gallon of milk, some challah bread, a dozen eggs, and a bottle of vanilla extract if you still plan on making French toast for everybody this weekend."

"Right. Thanks."

"You also need new shoelaces."

"Got it."

"And now, our joke for the day."

"That's okay, Soovee," says Dad. "We're almost at school."

"This will only take a second."

"No, seriously," says Dad. "We don't really want to hear—"

"Why did the scarecrow get a raise? Because it was outstanding in its—"

And then, before it can say "field," the car completely dies.

It stops chattering, stops monitoring our seat cushions, stops moving forward, stops giving driving advice to Dad. It basically stops doing all the really cool stuff it's supposed to do.

It's just dead.

Right in the middle of the drop-off lane at school.

Dad jiggles the keys in the ignition. "Come on, Soovee."

Behind us, all sorts of cars start honking. School buses, too. Trip and I sink down in our seats. This is extremely embarrassing.

Lena Elizabeth Cahill, the cutest girl in the fifth grade, is on crossing guard duty. She stomps over to our stalled vehicle, gestures with her flag for Dad to roll down his window, and then props her hands on her hips so she can glare at us.

"You cannot park in the middle of the driveway, Mr. Rodriguez," she says.

"I know. I'm not parking. I'm having, uh, technical difficulties."

Story of my life.

"Well, sir, because of your 'technical difficulties,' I'm having a traffic jam during morning drop-off!" says Lena, her reflective neon sash glinting in the sun. "This is not acceptable, Mr. Rodriguez. Not on my watch."

"Perhaps I can suggest a solution," says E, leaning forward so Lena can see him.

"Oh, hi, E," giggles Lena, completely changing her tone. "I didn't see you there."

I think Lena Elizabeth Cahill has a crush on E. I also think she doesn't know I exist.

"This is a very experimental vehicle," E explains. "One day, perhaps soon, it will be able to drive and park itself."

"That's fantastic," says Lena. "You think you could make it, like, do that today?"

"No. However, my arms are outfitted with, if I do say so myself, an array of impressive hydraulics. I am able to lift extremely heavy objects quite easily. I suggest that all passengers disembark, and I will tow the car over to the curb."

"Wow," says Lena. "You're as strong as a tow truck?"

"Not to brag, but yes. I am. The automobile club tried to recruit me for roadside assistance, but I told them I was too busy matriculating for Maddie Hayes-Rodriguez."

We all climb out of the vehicle.

"What does 'matriculating' mean?" Trip mumbles as we shuffle over to the sidewalk.

"Going to school," I say. E likes to use the big m word a lot.

"Oh," says Trip. "Then why didn't he just say 'going to school'?"

"I know, I know. I'm working on it." Getting Mom's school-stand-in robot to sound more like a real kid is supposed to be my responsibility.

E marches around to the front of the SUV and hooks one finger under the front bumper. Then, with a WHIR, a CLICK, and a big FERUUUUUUMPPPHHH, he hoists the front end off the ground and drags the whole car over to the curb.


Everyone applauds. Dad steps aside to call somebody on his cell phone. Probably a real tow truck.

E takes a slight bow.

"Thank you," he says to the assembled crowd. "On behalf of Dr. Elizabeth Hayes and myself, we regret any inconvenience our ongoing quest for scientific knowledge may have caused you this morning."

"Actually," a kid I've never met before pipes up, "your so-called quest for knowledge is idiotic, foolish, and laughable."

All righty-o.

Something tells me this new kid and I aren't going to be besties.

Do I know you?" I say to the new kid.

"Don't be absurd," he replies with a haughty huff. "How could you possibly know me when we've never even met? This is my first day matriculating here at Creekside Elementary."

Trip tugs on my sleeve. "That guy said 'matriculating,'" he whispers. "Just like E."

"I know," I say out of the corner of my mouth as we walk through the school's front doors. "I heard him."

"Be careful, Sammy," warns Trip. "Little Mr. Know-It-All could be a ninja robot disguised in strange clothes."

Now that Trip mentions it, the new kid does look a little goofy. Nobody else at Creekside comes to school in a navy-blue blazer with gold buttons, pleated khaki pants, a white shirt, and a striped tie. I mean, this is elementary school, not church.

"Allow me to elucidate as to why your electric SUV is a ludicrous idea."

"Huh?" I say.

E comes over to translate. "He wants to explain his negative reaction to Mom's new car."

The kid sniggers. "I didn't realize that robotic devices such as you had mothers."

"If I might be permitted a slight play on words," says E with a grin, "Dr. Elizabeth Hayes, my creator, is the mother of many inventions."

Trip laughs, so I do, too.

"And she's the one who designed that abomination?" The kid flaps his hand toward our dead SUV.

"Sammy?" asks Trip. "Is he calling your new car a Sasquatch?"

"No," says E. "However, by using the word abomination, he is suggesting that the electric SUV-EX is a disgrace, a mistake, and an error."

Funny. Error is what I used to call E before I got to know him better.

"Wait a second," I say. "Who the heck are you, anyway?"

The boy taps the breast pocket of his blazer. I see three Rs embroidered there in gold thread. The thread matches the buttons.

"I am Randolph R. Reich. Fifth grader. I'm never wrong, because I'm always Reich."

Since he pronounces his name "Rike," his dumb joke makes E chuckle.

"Very amusing," says E. "However, Randy—"


"Sorry. My bad. However, Randolph, we all make mistakes—such as my gaffe just now using the more familiar form of your first name."

Randolph shakes his head. "Not me, Mr. Roboto. I never make miscalculations. Your 'mother,' on the other hand, made a colossal blunder when she decided to engineer a battery-powered SUV."

"Oh, really?" I say, because I don't like anybody, especially new kids who've never met her, trash-talking my mom. "How come?"

Randolph sighs. "It's so obvious. Do I really need to explain my reasoning?"

I shoot him a look that lets him know he'd better.

"Fine. An SUV, or sport-utility vehicle, is primarily intended to be used for rugged, off-roading purposes."

"We go camping," I say defensively. "Well, we did. Once."

(With Maddie's SCID condition, the great outdoors isn't all that great.)


  • Praise for the House of Robots series:
    #1 New York Times Bestsellers
  • "Underlying the novel's laughs are themes of friendship, compassion, and family, particularly in regard to Sammy's devotion to his younger sister...and his deepening relationship with his 'bro-bot.'"—Publishers Weekly
  • "A good fit for reluctant readers."—
  • "The story of an extraordinary robot that signs up for an ordinary fifth grade class and changes elementary school forever! A wonderfully read story covering the gamut of tween emotions and the struggles of fitting in."—National Parenting Publications Award
  • "While overall the book has a light, casual, offhanded tone, details such as the sibling relationship also give it some heart and depth."—Parents' Choice

On Sale
Jan 16, 2017
Page Count
336 pages

James Patterson

About the Author

James Patterson is the world’s bestselling author, best known for his many enduring fictional characters and series, including Alex Cross, the Women’s Murder Club, Michael Bennett, Maximum Ride, Middle School, I Funny, and Jacky Ha-Ha. Patterson’s writing career is characterized by a single mission: to prove to everyone, from children to adults, that there is no such thing as a person who “doesn’t like to read,” only people who haven’t found the right book. He’s given over a million books to schoolkids and over forty million dollars to support education, and endowed over five thousand college scholarships for teachers. He writes full-time and lives in Florida with his family.

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