Quirk Books, 2014. 978-1594746765
Synopsis: After unexpectedly being sent to spend the summer with their strange Uncle Newt, Nick and Tesla Holt receive a strange voicemail from their mother telling them not to trust anyone. This sparks the eleven-year-old siblings into a spy hunt for the person trying to get at them and their secrets. The book includes instructions so that readers can also build some of the same spy gadgets that Nick and Tesla use throughout the story.
Why I picked it up: I am a big proponent of getting kids more interested in science and “Science Bob” has a lot of unique materials to help spark kid’s curiosity.
Why I finished it: This book is part fiction, part non-fiction; part mystery, part science experiment and the unique format of including the instructions for Nick and Tesla’s gadgets made for a more interactive story. Nick and Tesla are perhaps two of the most curious and adventurous eleven-year-olds that have been written, and their own takes on their current situation help them in looking at all sides of the situation. They may start off as a little bit overenthusiastic, but it is this enthusiasm that endears us to the characters. The list of suspects grows shorter as the book goes on and it is composed of its own set of characters: a mysterious intern, a girlfriend, a couple of unkind neighbors, the cleaning ladies, and an exterminator, all of whom seem to be acting a little out of place. Although this book is the third book in a series, it wasn’t hard for me to pick it up and jump right into the action. It does reference some of Nick and Tesla’s earlier adventures, but I didn’t ever feel lost of confused as I was reading. This is a perfect summer reading book because it’s engaging the reader both as the read and as they discover a way to really interact with the material by building their own gadgets. Just be careful that you don’t go crazy dusting fingerprints or using the invisicam!
Other related materials: Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab by “Science Bob” Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith; Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage by “Science Bob” Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith; Nick and Tesla’s Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove by “Science Bob” Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith; Robotics: Discover the Science and Technology of the Future with 20 Projects by Kathy Ceceri, illustrations by Sam Carbaugh; Recycled Robots: 10 Robot Projects by Robert Malone; Tinkering: Kids Learn by Making Stuff by Curt Gabrielson; Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja series by Marcus Emerson and Noah Child; Secret Agent 6th Grader by Marcus Emerson and Noah Child; The Accelerati Trilogy by Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman