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The Ice Cream Machine

6 Deliciously Different Stories with the Same Exact Name!

Author Adam Rubin
Look inside
Paperback
$9.99 US
5.06"W x 7.69"H x 1.08"D   | 11 oz | 36 per carton
On sale Feb 21, 2023 | 432 Pages | 978-0-593-32580-3
Age 8-12 years | Grades 3-7
Reading Level: Lexile 760L | Fountas & Pinnell X
Don’t miss the #1 New York Times bestseller everyone is raving about! From the wild and wonderful imagination of the author of Dragons Love Tacos comes this hilarious, irresistible debut collection of six totally different stories with the same exact name. Now in paperback!

In these six stories, set in six distinct worlds, you’ll meet a boy and his robot nanny traveling the globe in search of the world’s tastiest treat, a child mechanical prodigy who invents the freshest dessert ever, and an evil ice cream truck driver who strikes fear in the heart of every kid in town. 

You’ll be transported to a beachside boardwalk with an ice cream stand run by a penguin, a hilltop realm ruled by a king with a sweet tooth, and a giant alien space lab with a lone human subject who longs for a taste of home. 

Each story features black-and-white interior illustrations from a different artist, including Daniel Salmieri, Charles Santoso, Liniers, Emily Hughes, Nicole Miles, and Seaerra Miller, making this book unlike any you've ever seen. And exclusive to the paperback, you'll also find six more stories inspired by The Ice Cream Machine, written by kids like you and hand-picked by Adam Rubin himself! So grab a cup or a cone, and watch out for brain freeze! You'll definitely want to save room for this treat.
Praise for The Ice Cream Machine:

#1 New York Times Bestseller
#1 Indie Bestseller


“Three scoops of humor with adventure on top. Kids won't be able to resist The Ice Cream Machine!” —Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid

“If you do not find this book fascinating, I am sorry to say there is something wrong with you.”  —Lemony Snicket, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events
 
“Absolutely fun, smart, and kid-inspirational. Here’s the proof that writing is magic!” —Jon Scieszka, author of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
 
“Hilarious and imaginative, a total hoot!” —Melissa de la Cruz, author of the Descendants series
 
“Clever, inventive, and totally fun. The Ice Cream Machine is a blast!” —Max Brallier, author of The Last Kids on Earth

“Rubin’s penchant for fun shines through in this collection . . . Writing and ice cream make surprisingly magical companions.” —The New York Times

“As delicious as a multilayer sundae.” —Parents Magazine

* “Creative and fun . . . Ice cream lovers and tweens in general will get a kick out of this adventurous, whimsical, and funny book.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“Every story in this collection is distinct and original, imaginative and inventive… with humor reminiscent of Louis Sachar and an outlandishness that brings Roald Dahl to mind.” —Shelf Awareness

“[A] madcap middle grade debut . . . Comforting, entertaining, and uniformly funny.” —Publishers Weekly

“Offers convincing proof that words are magical . . . Scoops of entertainment and insight for young readers as well as writers.” —Booklist

“Entertaining . . . The variety of artistic styles forms a pleasing complement to the different entries.” —Kirkus Reviews
Adam Rubin is the author of a dozen critically acclaimed picture books, which have sold more than five million copies combined. They include Dragons Love Tacos, Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel, High Five, Gladys the Magic Chicken, Secret Pizza Party, Robo-Sauce, the Those Darn Squirrels trilogy, and El Chupacabras, which won the Texas Bluebonnet Award. Publishers Weekly called his #1 New York Times bestselling story collection The Ice Cream Machine a "madcap middle grade debut." Visit Adam online at adamrubinhasawebsite.com and follow him on Twitter @rubingo. View titles by Adam Rubin

The Ice Cream Machine

(the one with the five--armed robot)


A glimmering blue streak rocketed through the air above Megalopolis, weaving between skyscrapers, ducking below streams of flying hoverpods, and blasting through holographic advertisements just for fun. Excitement spread throughout the city as ordinary citizens identified the flying object overhead.

“Hey, look! It’s Shiro and Kelly,” said a man selling digital tacos on a street corner. He waved up at the sky to greet the famous duo.

“Shiro and Kelly.” An old woman on a park bench chuckled as she adjusted her cybergoggles. “Off on another exciting adventure, I bet.”

“I wish I had a superbot,” said a kid staring out the window while feeding his dead goldfish.

Before long, Shiro Hanayama and his robot best friend/tutor/bodyguard, Kelly, reached their destination: the Hanayama Robotics Corporation, a two-­hundred-­story building covered in lush bioluminescent greenery, which towered over the sprawling cityscape that had once been known as Los Angeles.

A landing pad extended from the building, and Kelly touched down gently in the center. Shiro climbed out from inside the robot, yawned, and brushed the jet-­black hair from his forehead. He was pale and chubby but had his father’s handsome features and his mother’s fierce, intelligent eyes. He wore a flight suit with a helmet, bright-pink sneakers, and a backpack.

Shiro stretched his arms over his head. “It’s getting tight in there.”

“If you don’t like it,” replied Kelly, “stop growing.”

Kelly adjusted her configuration. In flight mode, she resembled a squid: five thin arms positioned at the bottom of her squat, egg-­shaped body, ionic thrusters blasting from the tip of each three-­pronged claw.

In casual mode, four of her limbs reconfigured into more traditional arm and leg positions, while the fifth moved around according to her mood: Sometimes it sat coiled atop her head like hair, sometimes it swished behind her back like a tail, and sometimes it moved to the front of her body to assist with tasks that required three hands.

Kelly’s limbs were dark and dull in color, but her body was iridescent, like the glimmering wings of a blue butterfly. She was built from indestructible bioengineered materials, covered in armored scales (like a pineapple), immune to microwave attacks, and completely bulletproof (unlike a pineapple).

A series of quantum processors gave her the capacity for independent thought. She was bubbly, funny, and kind, with an IQ of 250.

Kelly was famously considered to be the most advanced robot on Earth. Her groundbreaking technology was highly coveted by government spies and rival corporations, but despite their best efforts, the superbot’s mysterious power source remained top secret.

Shiro’s mom, Professor Hanayama, had designed Kelly to help care for and protect her son.

The professor was tall and thin, with big, penetrating eyes, a small mouth, and an asymmetrical haircut that had been dyed snow white. She always dressed in gray from head to toe, with a single fresh-­cut flower tucked into her lapel for a touch of color.

Professor Hanayama ran one of the largest corporations in the solar system, leading the innovation of bio-­quantum technology and working tirelessly to protect what little remained of Earth’s natural resources. It was a very demanding job, which meant she didn’t get to spend much time with Shiro. They had planned to have breakfast together before she left for work that morning, but Shiro had overslept. Again.

When Professor Hanayama noticed her son and his robot outside her office on the landing pad, she paused her presentation and glowered at them through the window. Shiro pleaded with his hands, miming an apology. His mother turned back to the national ambassadors gathered around the table in the conference room, excused herself, and stepped outside.

“Good morning, Professor,” Kelly said, bowing.

“Good morning, Kelly,” said Professor Hanayama as she gave Shiro an angry hug.

“Good morning, Mom,” Shiro mumbled with his face smooshed against her chest.

“It would have been a better morning if you had shown up for breakfast like we’d planned.”

“Ow, Mom, you’re squeezing too tight!” Professor Hanayama let go, and Shiro breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m really sorry. I was up late, and I couldn’t find my new sneakers this morning, and—­”

“Save it, Shiro,” said Professor Hanayama. “I’m giving you one last chance. But if you dare break your poor mother’s heart again tomorrow, I swear I will send you to the Mars colony to live with your father.”

“But the only reason I—­”

“I don’t have time for any more excuses.” Professor Hanayama adjusted the orchid in her lapel and walked back inside.

“You should have woken me up,” Shiro muttered under his breath.

“You made me pinky-­promise not to!” Kelly protested. “I believe your exact words were ‘I don’t need you to babysit me; I can take care of myself.’ ”

Shiro grumbled, “I can, you know.”

He pulled a kendama from his backpack.

Kendama is an old Japanese skill game involving a ball attached by a string to a handle shaped like a cross. The handle has three small cups for catching the ball and a single spike that perfectly fits the hole drilled into the ball. Kendama is a great way to demonstrate dexterity and coordination. Shiro liked the game because it was one of the few amusements left in the world that didn’t require any electricity. He whipped the red ball on the string around in his hands.

FWIP, FWIP!

He flipped the kendama around his back, under his leg, and into the air. He spun in a circle, caught the handle, and speared the ball on top.

FWIP, FWIP, FOOOOWIP, TOK!

It almost looked like an ice cream cone.

“Hey,” Kelly said, impressed, “that gives me an idea. Let’s call JoJo.”

Shiro smiled. “You always know how to cheer me up.”

The robot sent out a beacon, and they both sat down, legs dangling over the edge of the landing pad, to wait for the ice cream man to arrive.

 

Thousands of flying vehicles zipped through the smog that blanketed Megalopolis and obscured Shiro and Kelly’s view of the ground, two hundred stories below. In the distance, a single wobbling object appeared to disrupt the orderly streams of automated shipping drones and robo-­taxis that glided along in perfect harmony.

“Watch your butts, you dang auto-­pods,” yelled JoJo as he shook his fist. JoJo’s was one of the few manual vehicles still in operation in the city. Across the side of it was painted jojo’s old-­fashioned ice cream. The pod hovered up the side of the building and landed with a crunch behind Shiro and Kelly.

JoJo was a gruff man with a thick neck and a heavy mustache. He lifted his cap to stroke his bald head.

“All righty, then.” JoJo grabbed his ice cream scoop with a meaty hand. “What can I get my two favorite customers today?”

“I will take three triple cones,” Kelly said. “Chocolate/strawberry/peanut butter, hazelnut/vanilla/pistachio, and cherry/coconut/fudge chunk.” Kelly’s display visor flashed with excitement. “Please.”

“You got it, boss.” JoJo popped open the cooler.

Shiro retrieved the tablet from his backpack and consulted a detailed chart as he considered JoJo’s colorful menu board.

“Hmm,” said Shiro. “I’ve tried all of these flavors at least three times.”

“Yeah,” Kelly said as she held up a triple-scoop cone. “That’s because JoJo makes the best ice cream in Megalopolis.” A hole in her hull whirled open like the shutter of a camera, and she tossed one of the frozen treats inside. Her display visor sparkled with delight.

“Thank you, Kelly,” said JoJo as he tipped his hat. “Take it from the superbot, kid.”

“Yeah,” Shiro said, “but there must be thousands of kinds of ice cream out there, and I’ve only tried three hundred forty-­seven.”

“What about freeze-­dried astronaut ice cream?” Kelly reached inside her hull and pulled out a silver foil package. “I keep this for emergencies. It’s what they eat in the Mars colony.”

Shiro opened the package and pulled out a gray paper cone with a limp string hanging from the tip. He pulled the string, which triggered a balloon-­like mechanism inside the cone. Once fully inflated, the “ice cream” resembled a tie-­dyed ball made of Styrofoam. Shiro sniffed at it and tried to take a bite. The texture was like chalk, and the taste wasn’t much better.

“Bleh.” Shiro stuck out his tongue. He tossed the astronaut ice cream into JoJo’s trash can. “That’s not what I’m talking about.” He poked at his tablet and scrolled through pages of frozen confections from around the world.

“Oh!” JoJo pointed at the screen. “That there is gelato. It’s Italian ice cream. Very delicious.”

Shiro turned to Kelly. “Hear that? We’ve got to try gelato.”

“Gelato, eh?” Kelly ran a search for gelato and projected a hologram from her display visor. A 3D map of Megalopolis floated in the air.

“Nah.” JoJo shook his head. “You won’t find any good gelato here in the city. You gotta go to Italy for that.”

“I’ve never been to Italy,” said Shiro.

Kelly turned to the window and looked inside the conference room. “Didn’t your mom say something about taking a break from our ‘impetuous escapades,’ since they keep turning into ‘geopolitical incidents’?”

“What’s ‘impetuous’ about flying to Italy for a few hours?”

Kelly projected the text of the dictionary definition in the air: <>

“Oooh.” JoJo snapped his fingers. “Good word.”

Shiro waved his hands through the holographic text, and it disappeared. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Kelly’s display visor narrowed. “The last time you said that, we got kidnapped by space pirates. They almost discovered my power source.”

“That was a total fluke.”

“The time before that, we got stuck on a submarine for three days.” Kelly folded her arms.

“Those Koreans were so nice!”

“And just last week, we had to fight a gang of laser ninjas to save the crown prince of Dubai.”

JoJo pointed. “I saw a video of that one on the news.”

“It was awesome,” Shiro said. “I got a medal.” He rummaged through his backpack for a while. “Well, I had a medal.”

Kelly put her hands on her hips and looked to the horizon. “Every time we fly off on some crazy boondoggle, you wind up getting us into trouble and I wind up having to save your butt.”

“The robot’s got a point,” said JoJo.

“What?” Shiro threw his hands in the air. “Kelly needs me way more than I need her.”

“Is that right?” asked Kelly.

“Sure.” Shiro smiled. “Without me, you’d be so bored!”

Kelly’s display visor brightened.

“The kid’s got a point too.” JoJo laughed. “He’s an entertaining little rascal.” He wiped his hands on a towel. “But I do have other stops to make today, so what’s the deal? You want a cone, or are you too bored with my menu? Three hundred forty-­seven flavors is more than enough for most people, you know.”

Shiro looked at Kelly with puppy-­dog eyes. “What else do we have to do today? Mom is busy, I finished all my homework, you’re fully charged . . .”

Kelly paused, calculating risk factors and timetables. “Okay, fine.”

Shiro did a clumsy cartwheel, jumped in the air, and pumped his fists.

“But this is not a boondoggle,” Kelly cautioned.

“No, of course not,” Shiro said.

“This is not an ‘impetuous escapade,’ ” Kelly added.

“Clearly not.” JoJo rolled his eyes.

“This is a valuable cultural experience and a perfect opportunity to practice your foreign-­language skills.” Kelly sounded quite convincing.

“Exactly. That’s what I’ll tell Mom.” Shiro recorded a holographic message on his tablet: “Hi, Mom! We’re going to Italy to learn to speak Italian. Be back soon!”

“Andiamo,” said Kelly with a perfect Italian accent. A holographic subtitle hung in the air and displayed the definition in English: <>

“Andiamo!” Shiro shouted.

“Molto bene!” said JoJo, laughing. “That means ‘Very good!’ ” He watched as the robot converted into flight mode and the boy climbed inside.

Kelly’s ionic thrusters began to glow. She lifted off from the landing pad and pierced the dirty brown clouds of the city to reach the bright-­blue sky above.

Scrunched inside her hull, Shiro reviewed Italian vocabulary on his tablet. “Vorrei un gelato, per favore. I would like some gelato, please.”

“Nice pronunciation,” said Kelly. She set a course and ignited her thrusters, and the two friends rocketed across the western hemisphere at twice the speed of sound.

SHABOOM!

About

Don’t miss the #1 New York Times bestseller everyone is raving about! From the wild and wonderful imagination of the author of Dragons Love Tacos comes this hilarious, irresistible debut collection of six totally different stories with the same exact name. Now in paperback!

In these six stories, set in six distinct worlds, you’ll meet a boy and his robot nanny traveling the globe in search of the world’s tastiest treat, a child mechanical prodigy who invents the freshest dessert ever, and an evil ice cream truck driver who strikes fear in the heart of every kid in town. 

You’ll be transported to a beachside boardwalk with an ice cream stand run by a penguin, a hilltop realm ruled by a king with a sweet tooth, and a giant alien space lab with a lone human subject who longs for a taste of home. 

Each story features black-and-white interior illustrations from a different artist, including Daniel Salmieri, Charles Santoso, Liniers, Emily Hughes, Nicole Miles, and Seaerra Miller, making this book unlike any you've ever seen. And exclusive to the paperback, you'll also find six more stories inspired by The Ice Cream Machine, written by kids like you and hand-picked by Adam Rubin himself! So grab a cup or a cone, and watch out for brain freeze! You'll definitely want to save room for this treat.

Praise

Praise for The Ice Cream Machine:

#1 New York Times Bestseller
#1 Indie Bestseller


“Three scoops of humor with adventure on top. Kids won't be able to resist The Ice Cream Machine!” —Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid

“If you do not find this book fascinating, I am sorry to say there is something wrong with you.”  —Lemony Snicket, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events
 
“Absolutely fun, smart, and kid-inspirational. Here’s the proof that writing is magic!” —Jon Scieszka, author of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
 
“Hilarious and imaginative, a total hoot!” —Melissa de la Cruz, author of the Descendants series
 
“Clever, inventive, and totally fun. The Ice Cream Machine is a blast!” —Max Brallier, author of The Last Kids on Earth

“Rubin’s penchant for fun shines through in this collection . . . Writing and ice cream make surprisingly magical companions.” —The New York Times

“As delicious as a multilayer sundae.” —Parents Magazine

* “Creative and fun . . . Ice cream lovers and tweens in general will get a kick out of this adventurous, whimsical, and funny book.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“Every story in this collection is distinct and original, imaginative and inventive… with humor reminiscent of Louis Sachar and an outlandishness that brings Roald Dahl to mind.” —Shelf Awareness

“[A] madcap middle grade debut . . . Comforting, entertaining, and uniformly funny.” —Publishers Weekly

“Offers convincing proof that words are magical . . . Scoops of entertainment and insight for young readers as well as writers.” —Booklist

“Entertaining . . . The variety of artistic styles forms a pleasing complement to the different entries.” —Kirkus Reviews

Author

Adam Rubin is the author of a dozen critically acclaimed picture books, which have sold more than five million copies combined. They include Dragons Love Tacos, Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel, High Five, Gladys the Magic Chicken, Secret Pizza Party, Robo-Sauce, the Those Darn Squirrels trilogy, and El Chupacabras, which won the Texas Bluebonnet Award. Publishers Weekly called his #1 New York Times bestselling story collection The Ice Cream Machine a "madcap middle grade debut." Visit Adam online at adamrubinhasawebsite.com and follow him on Twitter @rubingo. View titles by Adam Rubin

Excerpt

The Ice Cream Machine

(the one with the five--armed robot)


A glimmering blue streak rocketed through the air above Megalopolis, weaving between skyscrapers, ducking below streams of flying hoverpods, and blasting through holographic advertisements just for fun. Excitement spread throughout the city as ordinary citizens identified the flying object overhead.

“Hey, look! It’s Shiro and Kelly,” said a man selling digital tacos on a street corner. He waved up at the sky to greet the famous duo.

“Shiro and Kelly.” An old woman on a park bench chuckled as she adjusted her cybergoggles. “Off on another exciting adventure, I bet.”

“I wish I had a superbot,” said a kid staring out the window while feeding his dead goldfish.

Before long, Shiro Hanayama and his robot best friend/tutor/bodyguard, Kelly, reached their destination: the Hanayama Robotics Corporation, a two-­hundred-­story building covered in lush bioluminescent greenery, which towered over the sprawling cityscape that had once been known as Los Angeles.

A landing pad extended from the building, and Kelly touched down gently in the center. Shiro climbed out from inside the robot, yawned, and brushed the jet-­black hair from his forehead. He was pale and chubby but had his father’s handsome features and his mother’s fierce, intelligent eyes. He wore a flight suit with a helmet, bright-pink sneakers, and a backpack.

Shiro stretched his arms over his head. “It’s getting tight in there.”

“If you don’t like it,” replied Kelly, “stop growing.”

Kelly adjusted her configuration. In flight mode, she resembled a squid: five thin arms positioned at the bottom of her squat, egg-­shaped body, ionic thrusters blasting from the tip of each three-­pronged claw.

In casual mode, four of her limbs reconfigured into more traditional arm and leg positions, while the fifth moved around according to her mood: Sometimes it sat coiled atop her head like hair, sometimes it swished behind her back like a tail, and sometimes it moved to the front of her body to assist with tasks that required three hands.

Kelly’s limbs were dark and dull in color, but her body was iridescent, like the glimmering wings of a blue butterfly. She was built from indestructible bioengineered materials, covered in armored scales (like a pineapple), immune to microwave attacks, and completely bulletproof (unlike a pineapple).

A series of quantum processors gave her the capacity for independent thought. She was bubbly, funny, and kind, with an IQ of 250.

Kelly was famously considered to be the most advanced robot on Earth. Her groundbreaking technology was highly coveted by government spies and rival corporations, but despite their best efforts, the superbot’s mysterious power source remained top secret.

Shiro’s mom, Professor Hanayama, had designed Kelly to help care for and protect her son.

The professor was tall and thin, with big, penetrating eyes, a small mouth, and an asymmetrical haircut that had been dyed snow white. She always dressed in gray from head to toe, with a single fresh-­cut flower tucked into her lapel for a touch of color.

Professor Hanayama ran one of the largest corporations in the solar system, leading the innovation of bio-­quantum technology and working tirelessly to protect what little remained of Earth’s natural resources. It was a very demanding job, which meant she didn’t get to spend much time with Shiro. They had planned to have breakfast together before she left for work that morning, but Shiro had overslept. Again.

When Professor Hanayama noticed her son and his robot outside her office on the landing pad, she paused her presentation and glowered at them through the window. Shiro pleaded with his hands, miming an apology. His mother turned back to the national ambassadors gathered around the table in the conference room, excused herself, and stepped outside.

“Good morning, Professor,” Kelly said, bowing.

“Good morning, Kelly,” said Professor Hanayama as she gave Shiro an angry hug.

“Good morning, Mom,” Shiro mumbled with his face smooshed against her chest.

“It would have been a better morning if you had shown up for breakfast like we’d planned.”

“Ow, Mom, you’re squeezing too tight!” Professor Hanayama let go, and Shiro breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m really sorry. I was up late, and I couldn’t find my new sneakers this morning, and—­”

“Save it, Shiro,” said Professor Hanayama. “I’m giving you one last chance. But if you dare break your poor mother’s heart again tomorrow, I swear I will send you to the Mars colony to live with your father.”

“But the only reason I—­”

“I don’t have time for any more excuses.” Professor Hanayama adjusted the orchid in her lapel and walked back inside.

“You should have woken me up,” Shiro muttered under his breath.

“You made me pinky-­promise not to!” Kelly protested. “I believe your exact words were ‘I don’t need you to babysit me; I can take care of myself.’ ”

Shiro grumbled, “I can, you know.”

He pulled a kendama from his backpack.

Kendama is an old Japanese skill game involving a ball attached by a string to a handle shaped like a cross. The handle has three small cups for catching the ball and a single spike that perfectly fits the hole drilled into the ball. Kendama is a great way to demonstrate dexterity and coordination. Shiro liked the game because it was one of the few amusements left in the world that didn’t require any electricity. He whipped the red ball on the string around in his hands.

FWIP, FWIP!

He flipped the kendama around his back, under his leg, and into the air. He spun in a circle, caught the handle, and speared the ball on top.

FWIP, FWIP, FOOOOWIP, TOK!

It almost looked like an ice cream cone.

“Hey,” Kelly said, impressed, “that gives me an idea. Let’s call JoJo.”

Shiro smiled. “You always know how to cheer me up.”

The robot sent out a beacon, and they both sat down, legs dangling over the edge of the landing pad, to wait for the ice cream man to arrive.

 

Thousands of flying vehicles zipped through the smog that blanketed Megalopolis and obscured Shiro and Kelly’s view of the ground, two hundred stories below. In the distance, a single wobbling object appeared to disrupt the orderly streams of automated shipping drones and robo-­taxis that glided along in perfect harmony.

“Watch your butts, you dang auto-­pods,” yelled JoJo as he shook his fist. JoJo’s was one of the few manual vehicles still in operation in the city. Across the side of it was painted jojo’s old-­fashioned ice cream. The pod hovered up the side of the building and landed with a crunch behind Shiro and Kelly.

JoJo was a gruff man with a thick neck and a heavy mustache. He lifted his cap to stroke his bald head.

“All righty, then.” JoJo grabbed his ice cream scoop with a meaty hand. “What can I get my two favorite customers today?”

“I will take three triple cones,” Kelly said. “Chocolate/strawberry/peanut butter, hazelnut/vanilla/pistachio, and cherry/coconut/fudge chunk.” Kelly’s display visor flashed with excitement. “Please.”

“You got it, boss.” JoJo popped open the cooler.

Shiro retrieved the tablet from his backpack and consulted a detailed chart as he considered JoJo’s colorful menu board.

“Hmm,” said Shiro. “I’ve tried all of these flavors at least three times.”

“Yeah,” Kelly said as she held up a triple-scoop cone. “That’s because JoJo makes the best ice cream in Megalopolis.” A hole in her hull whirled open like the shutter of a camera, and she tossed one of the frozen treats inside. Her display visor sparkled with delight.

“Thank you, Kelly,” said JoJo as he tipped his hat. “Take it from the superbot, kid.”

“Yeah,” Shiro said, “but there must be thousands of kinds of ice cream out there, and I’ve only tried three hundred forty-­seven.”

“What about freeze-­dried astronaut ice cream?” Kelly reached inside her hull and pulled out a silver foil package. “I keep this for emergencies. It’s what they eat in the Mars colony.”

Shiro opened the package and pulled out a gray paper cone with a limp string hanging from the tip. He pulled the string, which triggered a balloon-­like mechanism inside the cone. Once fully inflated, the “ice cream” resembled a tie-­dyed ball made of Styrofoam. Shiro sniffed at it and tried to take a bite. The texture was like chalk, and the taste wasn’t much better.

“Bleh.” Shiro stuck out his tongue. He tossed the astronaut ice cream into JoJo’s trash can. “That’s not what I’m talking about.” He poked at his tablet and scrolled through pages of frozen confections from around the world.

“Oh!” JoJo pointed at the screen. “That there is gelato. It’s Italian ice cream. Very delicious.”

Shiro turned to Kelly. “Hear that? We’ve got to try gelato.”

“Gelato, eh?” Kelly ran a search for gelato and projected a hologram from her display visor. A 3D map of Megalopolis floated in the air.

“Nah.” JoJo shook his head. “You won’t find any good gelato here in the city. You gotta go to Italy for that.”

“I’ve never been to Italy,” said Shiro.

Kelly turned to the window and looked inside the conference room. “Didn’t your mom say something about taking a break from our ‘impetuous escapades,’ since they keep turning into ‘geopolitical incidents’?”

“What’s ‘impetuous’ about flying to Italy for a few hours?”

Kelly projected the text of the dictionary definition in the air: <>

“Oooh.” JoJo snapped his fingers. “Good word.”

Shiro waved his hands through the holographic text, and it disappeared. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Kelly’s display visor narrowed. “The last time you said that, we got kidnapped by space pirates. They almost discovered my power source.”

“That was a total fluke.”

“The time before that, we got stuck on a submarine for three days.” Kelly folded her arms.

“Those Koreans were so nice!”

“And just last week, we had to fight a gang of laser ninjas to save the crown prince of Dubai.”

JoJo pointed. “I saw a video of that one on the news.”

“It was awesome,” Shiro said. “I got a medal.” He rummaged through his backpack for a while. “Well, I had a medal.”

Kelly put her hands on her hips and looked to the horizon. “Every time we fly off on some crazy boondoggle, you wind up getting us into trouble and I wind up having to save your butt.”

“The robot’s got a point,” said JoJo.

“What?” Shiro threw his hands in the air. “Kelly needs me way more than I need her.”

“Is that right?” asked Kelly.

“Sure.” Shiro smiled. “Without me, you’d be so bored!”

Kelly’s display visor brightened.

“The kid’s got a point too.” JoJo laughed. “He’s an entertaining little rascal.” He wiped his hands on a towel. “But I do have other stops to make today, so what’s the deal? You want a cone, or are you too bored with my menu? Three hundred forty-­seven flavors is more than enough for most people, you know.”

Shiro looked at Kelly with puppy-­dog eyes. “What else do we have to do today? Mom is busy, I finished all my homework, you’re fully charged . . .”

Kelly paused, calculating risk factors and timetables. “Okay, fine.”

Shiro did a clumsy cartwheel, jumped in the air, and pumped his fists.

“But this is not a boondoggle,” Kelly cautioned.

“No, of course not,” Shiro said.

“This is not an ‘impetuous escapade,’ ” Kelly added.

“Clearly not.” JoJo rolled his eyes.

“This is a valuable cultural experience and a perfect opportunity to practice your foreign-­language skills.” Kelly sounded quite convincing.

“Exactly. That’s what I’ll tell Mom.” Shiro recorded a holographic message on his tablet: “Hi, Mom! We’re going to Italy to learn to speak Italian. Be back soon!”

“Andiamo,” said Kelly with a perfect Italian accent. A holographic subtitle hung in the air and displayed the definition in English: <>

“Andiamo!” Shiro shouted.

“Molto bene!” said JoJo, laughing. “That means ‘Very good!’ ” He watched as the robot converted into flight mode and the boy climbed inside.

Kelly’s ionic thrusters began to glow. She lifted off from the landing pad and pierced the dirty brown clouds of the city to reach the bright-­blue sky above.

Scrunched inside her hull, Shiro reviewed Italian vocabulary on his tablet. “Vorrei un gelato, per favore. I would like some gelato, please.”

“Nice pronunciation,” said Kelly. She set a course and ignited her thrusters, and the two friends rocketed across the western hemisphere at twice the speed of sound.

SHABOOM!

Books in Bloom

Springtime means warmer weather, a season of renewal, and fresh new books perfect for spring holidays, blooming garden parties, and outdoor adventures! Whether you’re hosting the holidays or looking to flex your green thumb, we have everything you need to gift, garden, and grow this spring. Check out our highlights below to browse our favorite

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