By: “Science Bob” Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith
Illustrated By: Scott Garrett
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: November 2013
Reviewed By: Kristi Benedict
Review Date: November 15, 2013
This story starts at the beginning of eleven-year-old twins Nick and Tesla’s summer vacation where they have been shipped off to live with their Uncle Newt for the summer, as their parents had to make a work related trip to Uzbekistan to study soybeans. From the very beginning Nick and Tesla have doubts about this explanation but they do not have much time to think about it as one of their experiments, a homemade rocket, launches Tesla’s pendant into the yard of a creepy old house with a pale and scared looking girl peering out the window warning them to go away! Of course this mystery will not be ignored as Nick and Tesla work to find out what happened to this girl. Along the way they get thrown into more than they had ever expected including two very unfriendly criminals, killer dogs, and a mysterious black SUV that keeps following them. The only way to find out exactly what is going on is to put their minds together and come up with contraptions that will not only solve the growing list of questions but keep them alive.
These two authors do a great job of combining a mystery with science allowing a reader who is interested in just one or both to enjoy this book. There are enough elements that keep the reader guessing, such as the pale scared looking girl staring out the window, the creepy old house, and a mysterious black SUV, that any mystery book lover would want to continue turning the pages. On the other hand the ideas, contraptions, and plans that Nick and Tesla come up with are engaging for anyone who thinks scientifically. Then the way these two components fit together to create an appealing and page turning story is surprisingly wonderful.
For any reader who enjoys science, experiments, and building your own contraptions this book would definitely deliver. In addition to a fun, adventurous story there are step-by-step instructions to build homemade burglar alarms, electromagnets, and even a rocket launcher! For me the story was a good mystery with inviting and believable characters that fit and worked together well. Both Nick and Tesla are characters who are easy to relate to and I found myself wanting to search for the answers to their questions as much as they did. However, I am not a person who understands the mechanics of the experiments and contraptions they were building even though seeing that they worked to solve the mystery was quite amazing.
Quill says: This book has elements of both science and mystery so if a reader and especially a young pre-teen reader is interested in both of these elements it is a winner.