Funny, warm, philosophical and with an electric narrative voice, 'Troofriend' is children's sci-fi at its best. This is 'Black Mirror' for ages eight up. It will leave you with a 'u' shape on your face and lllottts of qquestions to ignite your bbrrainn. Whrrrrrr.

Sarah is not happy with the friends she's making at school and her parents are always busy. To make things better, she's given the Troofriend 560 Mark IV; an android who never lies or steals or bullies but is the perfect friend. Except this design of Troofriend is experiencing a glitch... it's beginning to feel and express real human emotions.

Kirsty Applebaum has written a wonderful and surprisingly gentle story that thoughtfully explores the issue of artificial intelligence - something that feels more and more timely and relevant. Children today could be the parents of this book in the future (if not sooner), and what better way to prepare them for a world of AI than with a fantastic work of fiction with a first-person narrator like no other. Honestly, this is what makes 'Troofriend' such a joy. 'Ivy' the android narrates events with cold hilarity, with sparkling insight and with a fuzzy, growing warmth that makes for such compelling and additive reading. In this way, the story is tight and descriptions are delightfully prosaic, yet somehow (like the circuits inside Ivy) the sum of its parts makes for something startling poetic as a whole. There are so many points in the story, where as a teacher, I would stop and allow a debate, or even just a bit of a giggle.


With little out there for children that addresses the rise of AI, this is a perfect book for all present and future classrooms. Let's just hope there will never be a Trooteacher!

© 2021 by Chris Soul