cover image Ruby Goldberg's Bright Idea

Ruby Goldberg's Bright Idea

Anna Humphrey, illus. by Vanessa Brantley Newton. Simon & Schuster, $15.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-4424-8027-8

Ten-year-old Ruby, named after iconoclastic artist/inventor Rube Goldberg, is determined to take home the gold medal at the school science fair. The top prize has gone to her archenemy, Dominic, for two years running, but this year nothing will stop Ruby, whose love of science is trumped only by her love of winning. Taking inspiration from her namesake, Ruby decides her project will be a Goldberg-style machine designed to help her grandfather, whose beloved dog has died. When Dominic volunteers to help out, Ruby reluctantly accepts, acknowledging that by joining forces, their project will be even stronger. Ruby's single-mindedness veers into selfishness during the collaboration, causing friction with both her best friend Penny and her grandfather. Ruby is brash and witty, even in her most self-absorbed moments, and YA author Humphrey (Rhymes with Cupid) peppers her first middle-grade novel with engaging science facts and Ruby's own insights into her project. Newton's illustrations mesh gracefully with the lightly humorous tone. While Penny is overly earnest, other secondary characters, along with the flawed but endearing Ruby, give the story depth and charm. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. Illustrator's agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Jan.)