cover image The Mesmer Menace

The Mesmer Menace

Kersten Hamilton, illus. by James Hamilton. Clarion, $16.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-547-90568-6

Noodles, a dry-humored dachshund, narrates this auspicious first book in the Gadgets and Gears series, set in 1902. Wally Kennewickett, the dog's young master and a "scientist in training," lives with his parents, world-famous inventors whose contraptions include a staff of automatons, windup dust bunnies to clean their hilltop inn, and a popcorn popper powered by lightning. When President Theodore Roosevelt recruits the elder Kennewicketts to help thwart the Mesmers, an organization of mind-controlling magicians intent on taking over the world, Wally is left to demonstrate the popcorn popper to a contingent of visiting vendors. As the villains infiltrate the gathering, Hamilton (the Goblin Wars trilogy) makes the comedic most of her premise, including a pigeon capable of hypnosis and a winged vest created by Wally that enables Noodles to fly. Wearing that invention, the acrophobic dog heroically foils the villains' ploy%E2%80%94for now. Noodles's antics and droll, mannered narration (on Roosevelt: "Everyone knew he had the courage of a corsair") make him the indisputable star of this show. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 9%E2%80%9312. Author's agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (Nov.)