Authors: Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith
Length: 224 pages
Series or Stand Alone: Book 2 of 3, although they can be read separately
Content Appropriate For: Grades 3-6
Format: Digital ARC thanks to Quirk Books via Edelweiss
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Three adjectives that describe this book: believable, easy-to-read, fun (bonus: nerdy)
What a great, new middle grades series! For those who enjoy traditional mysteries ~ crime, clues, suspects, witnesses ~ this is it. For those who enjoy realistic characters you can cheer for, this is it. Unlike many other kid-detective books, Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage is well-crafted, including the characters.
To support middle grade readers, the plot never wanders from the primary crime, yet the story is complex enough to include two twists and a town full of interesting characters. I also appreciated that among the 4 crime-solving friends is a girl and an African American boy. Plus, it's awesome how science was cool and fun, even for girls.
An added bonus in each of the Nick and Tesla books is that instructions are included so that kids can do the science work at home. In this edition, Nick and Tesla build 4 robots. The robots are made of mostly simple objects like coat hangers and plastic bottles, and clear illustrated directions are included. I can't wait to make some of these bots at home!
My only complaint is that the primary adult character, Uncle Newt, is a stereotypically Einstein scientist. He is also very socially awkward. I find this view of science to be very problematic, lending to kids' thinking that they cannot/should not/would not want to be scientists. Since I think this is a pretty major misstep, I've deducted an entire star. Still, I will definitely be getting this book for my classroom, and I'm looking forward to reading the other two books in this series.