Published by Scholastic on January 5th 2017
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Eleven year old Olly has a very special delivery - a 3D printing machine, stamped with PROPERTY OF M.O.D and BRITISH SPACE AGENCY. WARNING. DO NOT TAMPER, which has magical powers... It has a name, it speaks, and it can print ANYTHING Olly asks it to - a never-ending supply of sweets, a swimming pool in the shed - but what Olly really wants is... his dad, who has separated from his mum and moved out of the family home. Cue the creation of Dad-Bot - he looks just like Dad (on a good day) but is totally chaotic - and his antics tip Olly and co into a heart-racing and heart-warming adventure!
The Everything Machine is one of the most adorable middle-grade novels I’ve ever read, but not only that, it really got me thinking. If I had a machine that could literally give me anything and everything, what would I get? I JUST DON’T KNOW. More books? ALL THE BOOKS? Yankee Candles? MONEY? Money is a good one because it means I could stop working, still buy books and support authors (hurrah!). Surely that would just fix everything? But as it were for Olly, Stevie and Bird, having everything you’ve ever wanted isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…
I loved everything about this book – the characters were so realistic, from Olly, Stevie and Bird, to their harassed mum, who spends more time on the baby than she does her other kids, but not in a vacant/absent way, because she is always there, always wondering what’s going on with the other three. The machine itself. I have much love for machines with minds of their own (see: Iron Man) and Russell was fantastic. Witty, huffy, sarcastic – he needed more lines! He honestly made me laugh, with his one-liners and stroppy teenage moods.
Ally Keenan has written such a good story here. Everything was pitch perfect, there was action and adventure, there were funny moments, emotional moments, times where you could really understand that these kids were just children whose greatest wish in life wasn’t money or fame or whatever else the machine could give you, but a happy family life. That’s the moral of the story for me – a machine may be able to give you everything your heart desires, but that doesn’t mean it’ll make you happy. A bit deep for a kids book? Sure, but it’s always an important lesson to learn.