Subtitled A Beginner’s Guide to Building and Programming Robots, this book is a very thorough tutorial meant to augment the user guide that comes along with the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robotics kit. Laurens Valk has compiled here lavishly illustrated step-by-step instructions on how to put together the kit’s five robots, including the sophisticated LAVA R3X, a walking and talking humanoid robot.

But there’s far more than just assembly instructions to be absorbed, as Valk includes info on understanding the sensors that you’ll be using, robot building techniques that help you figure out how to do things such as using the gears that make the robots move, how to play games on the EV3 computer that’s at the heart of each project and, when you’re ready, how to create advanced programs. The idea is to stimulate the robot builder to think out of the box, literally, and realize that there’s an unlimited world of robot creation that goes far beyond what’s expected from the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 kit.

To that end, the book is liberally peppered with side project challenges that Valk calls “discoveries;” can you use your kit materials to make a vertically-moving “Chimney Climber” robot, turn your robot into a traffic light or program your robot to navigate a table top without falling off, sweeping up unused LEGO pieces as it goes?

With more than 100 of these little and not-so-little challenges topping off the book, Valk’s imparted knowledge also leads the EV3 kit owner to maximum fun.

Grade: A