Thursday, December 19, 2013

Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab: a mystery with electromagnets, burglar alarms, and other gadgets you can build yourself by Bob Pflugfelder

Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab: A Mystery with Electromagnets, Burglar Alarms, and Other Gadgets You Can Build Yourself

Eleven year old twins Nick and Tesla are sent to California to live with their eccentric Uncle Newt for the summer after their parents rush off to Uzbekistan to study the irrigation techniques of soybeans.  Once they arrive at the airport however their Uncle is nowhere to be found.  Being the clever and resourceful children they are, they manage to secure a ride home and are not surprised to discover their Uncle covered in the remnants of an experiment gone awry. Uncle Newt is an intelligent, if distracted, inventor who often gets caught up in the experiment he conducts in the lab located in the basement of his house.

The real adventure for Nick and Tesla begins when a bottle rocket they build and decide to launch accidentally lands in the neighbor's backyard.  While trying to retrieve the rocket, the twins stumble upon a mystery surrounding the creepy abandoned house next door with a ghost-like girl in the window. Over the course of the summer the two become caught up in all sorts of mysteries, inspiring the help of some of the neighborhood children along the way. The twins use common household items to assemble their cleverly designed inventions that will aide them on their escapades.

This fast paced, interactive mystery is packed with exciting inventions complete with easy to follow, detailed instructions. A new invention ties into each mystery the twins become involved in, allowing young readers the ability to fully immerse themselves in the story.  The inventions cover everything from robotics to burglar alarms, electromagnets to bottle rockets. My personal favorite is the intruder alert system formed from old Christmas lights. Nick and Tesla encourage kids to dive right in and experiment with science, emphasizing that it can be both fun and educational.

For other middle grade stories featuring inventions check out Edison's Gold by Geoff Watson or the Templeton Twins series by Ellis Weiner and Jeremy Holmes.

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