Claire Rosemary Jane, Children's Author.

"Robot Wars" is back!
The 6 episodes on BBC 2 for 2016  came to thrilling finale with Apollo winning.
Apollo defended their title for the 2017 show but the 2017 winners are Carbide, a horizontal spinner of immense power. Well done to the Carbide team from the Midlands! 

Considerable damage was done to the floor and at one stage to the clear polycarbonate protective screen
during the final episode. Let's hope that the namby pamby health and safety police do not try to ban Robot Wars. If they should try, they should do the same to skydiving, motor racing, channel swimming, bungee jumping, driving steam engines, hang gliding and crossing the road.

Read, at the bottom of this page, how Kevin, Robert and Aahliyah decided to build a robot for the competition. 

The Boy Who Loved Robots.


This is a story with a sad beginning and a hopeful end.
Technical enough to appeal to boys without being overly technical, and yet emotional enough to appeal to girls as well, the story deals with two main issues, coping with grief and stereotyping.
There are three distinct threads to the story, namely; the building of the various robots; the "Is it or isn't it a relationship?" question between Robert and Aahliyah, his American school friend, and the ongoing question as to why Kevin Granton, the man from the robot shop, seems to have such a mysterious past. Of the three threads, only the one concerning Kevin Granton is resolved totally in the story, leaving the reader to have to form their own conclusions as to what will happen finally regarding the other two threads. There is however enough to leave the reader in little doubt as to how they think that it would end and to a degree they are able to make up their own desired ending for themselves. And there is scope for there to be a sequel to the book, indeed I already have the story line for this.
With chapter titles almost entirely computer related, and the book cram full of various computer related topics, this book is a must for any child or teenager who loves anything of a technological nature.

You can read chapter 20 here.

                                                                            Chapter 20: display 
Robert could not wait for that Monday at school to end. And consequently the day dragged on even slower than usual. Fortunately he had not been given too many pieces of homework that particular Monday evening, so, as he was pretty much up to date with most of it, he would be able to spend a little longer talking to Mr. Granton. That's if Mr. Granton didn't mind.
He cycled like fury straight from school to "Artificial Logic", leant his bike against the wall, and went straight through the shop door, without so much as a glance in the windows.
Kevin Granton did actually have a customer with him, a man buying a fairly straightforward robot kit for his ten-year-old son. The son himself was not there, but the robot was to be a birthday present for the boy, who had apparently, Robert was to later discover, been dropping big hints about this particular kit for some while.
Kevin Granton looked up as he saw the door open, and the trembler in his pocket activate. He spoke briefly to Robert. "
"Hello Robert. Go and have a look round. I'll be with you when I've sorted out things for this gentleman."
He then turned his attention back to the man. Robert meanwhile was looking around the shop. He looked all the way down the robots to see if Mr. Granton had put the one that he had built on display yet.
He could not see it anywhere.
But Kevin Granton glanced up again, and caught sight of the mystified look on Robert's face.
"Excuse me as second." he said his customer. He turned to Robert. "Go and look in the window, Robert,” he said with a smile.
Robert had been in such a hurry to see Kevin Granton that he had not even glanced at the window display. And in his excitement at the thought of being in a real robot team, he had temporarily forgotten what Kevin Granton had promised would happen to the robot kit when it was completed.
He went back out of the shop door again. And there, absolutely bang in the middle of the display of the robot and computer orientated window, was the robot that Robert himself had built, with a little bit of help on the circuit boards from Aahliyah.
And on a big A4 sized sheet of card, was a beautifully printed computer generated sign saying "The very latest in robot kit technology, MechArt's Techno 5, assembled by 14 year-old Robert Harrington of Waterford High School."
                                                             - - - -
Back in the shop, the man turned to Kevin Granton and said: "I mentioned I'd been looking in the window before I came in. That boy who you called Robert, is he the same Robert who built the kit in the window?"
“The one and the same."
"Well if my son can handle something as complicated as that in four years' time I shall be chuffed to bits,
Mr. Granton."
"He is a remarkable boy, is Robert." was all that Kevin had time to reply, for Robert was on his way back into the shop, with an enormous grin on his face.
"Hey" said the man. "I hear you are the boy who built the kit in the window. It's a beaut! Well done! And all your own work."
"I had a little help from Aahliyah too." Robert replied.
"Who's Aahliyah?"
"She's a girl I know. She did some of the electronic circuitry."
"My, it and just gets better, perhaps my daughter will get interested too. Well Mr. Granton, thanks for all your help. I think that about wraps it up. See you again no doubt if this becomes more than just a passing interest."
The man picked up the box from off the counter, bid farewell to both Kevin and Robert, and left the shop.
"He drove 25 miles just to come to get that kit, Robert, he was telling me. Apparently his son has one of the robot mags, and made sure that his Dad saw my advert."
"Well it's a Brill shop."
Robert of course knew exactly what he thought of "Artificial Logic".
"I rang up your Design and Technology teacher this morning Robert. Did he mention it?
"Haven't seen him all day Mr Granton."
"I wanted to make sure that he had a copy of the notes that you made, I've made a copy for you too. Here. Give one to your Design and Technology teacher."
He handed Robert three pages of neatly typed script, of Robert's original notes.
"Wow. Didn't know that you could type too."
Kevin Granton laughed.
"I didn't type it. I dictated it into the computer. It's a voice-activated software program that types what you dictate into it. It's a more sophisticated version of the one that you, (with a little help from Aahliyah) fitted into the Techno 5."
"Well. It would be great for doing homework."
"They aren't that expensive Robert. You were saying Aahliyah's Dad updated your computer system, it should run it, no problem."
"Do you sell it here?"
"No. Is not really robot orientated enough. But the computer shop in town should have it."
Robert caught himself thinking back to how he had feared that "the man in the shop" might be some pushy salesmen. It was difficult to imagine anyone more mild-mannered and helpful than Kevin Granton was. He certainly was no pushy salesman.
"Anyway. That wasn't really why I came." Robert started. "I've come to tell you that Aahliyah is going back to the USA for three weeks. She is interested but she wanted to know if being away for the first three weeks of the school holidays would be a problem."
"Not at all." Kevin replied. I reckon it will take us at least three months, and probably more like six months to build the robot."
"Yes Robert. I was meaning to talk to you about that. You've got six weeks of school holidays coming up. Are you going away yourselves, you, your mum and sister?"
"No, we can't afford holidays much these days."
"So you'll be here in Waterford all through the holidays?"
"Well how would you like to come and work on the robot, on the bits that I know for certain that you could do?"
"I would really like to. But I'll have to ask mum first."
"There's just one thing I want to make quite clear Robert. Everything I know about you so far would suggest they you're a very sensible and responsible sort of person. But what we are going to be doing, although it will be great fun, is not a game. We will be using some very powerful equipment. So you must promise, both for your own safety and mine, and for the peace of mind of your mum, that if I say you must work on a certain piece of equipment only when I am right there to make sure that you do it properly, that you will do as I ask without any argument. By all means ask questions later, that is how you learn."
"I understand Mr Granton. I know this will certainly not be a toy."
"No, it will end up being the weight of an average adult when it is finished, and it will be very powerful. Oh and one other thing, Robert, if you're going to be the second member of my team, I think you should drop the Mr Granton thing and call me Kevin."
"Alright Mr Granton... Kevin, I mean." They both laughed.
"Right then, let's get started."
"What, right now?"
"Well not exactly, I'm just going to run over what we shall be doing, that's assuming that your mum gives the OK for you to do this."
"Does my Design and Technology teacher know anything about any of this?"
"No Robert, I haven't mentioned it. I want to keep this project quite hush hush until it looks as if we shall get accepted for the competition."
"Do you think someone might try to steal your ideas?"
"I don't think so. It's all done in quite a light-hearted way. The competition between the roboteers that is I mean."
"Yes that's how it comes across on the television."
"But I just want to make sure. But don't worry; I'll make sure the school knows all about it if we get a place. They will want to know a lot if two of their pupils will end up on the telly!"
"I suppose."
"Believe me they will, Robert! Anyway, this is what we shall do. As you can see the chassis and the armoury are all done. The next few jobs are to get some wheels, some really powerful motors, and some equipment suitable for powering the SRIMECH."
"But don't you have all these for sale right here in the shop?"
Kevin smiled.
"No Robert. Everything I sell here is for hobby robots. This is war."
Robert stopped to think.
"Yes I suppose it is. A fight to the "death" with robots."
"The great thing is that with all the right things being done, only the robots get hurt. That's one of the things I like about it,” said Kevin.
"So where do you get the bits?"
"Well you will be able to get some of them for me, Robert."
"But I can't afford......"
"Robert! Just get off that hobbyhorse. Here's how we do it. Few of the roboteers spend loads and loads of money on their robots. They use their ingenuity and imagination. That's partly what this is all about. They get electric motors from car scrap yards, wheels and tyres from go-karts, wiring from discarded electrical equipment, I've even known some get steel from old cookers and washing machines."
"This is all welded isn't it? Who did that?"
"I did; I have got my own arc welding gear out in the room at the back of the shop. So you can see......"
"That it needn't cost all that much. Just to know what you're doing."
"I could go up to the scrap yard......"
"Yes you could. But don't just go, willy-nilly, Robert. I'll give you a list of bits to try to get, and tell you what type of car to get certain bits from. And that can wait until the holidays start. It's just under a week until you break-up isn't it?"
"Well you check with your mum, and then get back to me."
"I will. Probably tomorrow or Wednesday."
"And don't forget. Keep quiet about this."
"Oh no." Robert groaned.
"What's the matter?"
"It's Mark; he's my friend. He's been pressing me for weeks about what I've been up to. I'll never be able to keep it secret from him."
"Well don't. Get him to help you. Just ask him not to go blabbing it to everyone. Can't have you losing a friend on my account."
"Do you mean that?"
"Of course."
"But he's hopeless with mechanical things."
"So you don't think he'll be clamouring to be part of the team?"
"I doubt it. He still into PlayStation, and he spends quite a lot of time playing football."
"Well just ask him not to go telling everyone. Oh I nearly forgot. I wrote the review for the magazine using the report of your assembly over the weekend. Here. There's a copy of the draft for you. Take it home and read it. You ought to get off home. Your mum will be wondering where you are again. Now be off with you before you get me into trouble."
Robert couldn't wait to read the draft review. He had never before read anything that might well be published before it actually was published.