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

Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith, illus. by Scott Garrett. Quirk, $12.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-59474-648-2
A summer with Uncle Newt turns into a wild ride for 11-year-old twins Nick and Tesla Holt. First there’s Uncle Newt himself, a scatterbrained inventor who has them sleeping on a “biomass thermal conversion center”—i.e., a bag of compost. Then there’s the creepy old house nearby with locked grounds and guard dogs, where Nick sees a mysterious girl in the window. And what’s up with the black SUV following them everywhere? Pflugfelder and Hockensmith get their Nick and Tesla series off to a strong start, with narration divided between the siblings and five plot-related DIY activities interspersed, such as making an “intruder alert system” from a string of Christmas tree lights. Fearless Tesla and sensitive Nick are a tenacious and entertaining team, and their new friends and offbeat uncle create a strong supporting cast. The mystery of the girl in the house is wrapped up nicely, yet the stage is clearly set for future action. Garrett’s blue-tinted cartoons accentuate the plot’s more dramatic moments, and a sharp overall design, with circuitry diagrams flanking the pages, gives the book a polished, classic look. Ages 9–12. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/2013
Release date: 11/05/2013
Genre: Children's
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