I would love to know what Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's schools did that has them so enamoured of science fairs. Pearson did his turn, taking "Steel" Trapp to the National Science Challenge (see review April 28, 2008), and now the two of them have turned their talents to Hubble Middle School, where Toby discovers that the rich kids are not only cheating on their projects by buying plans and having someone else create the project, but they are also putting the whole US in jeopardy by unwittingly aiding spies from a foreign (and vaguely communistic) country!
Not that Toby really has time to worry about this, since he sold his father's autographed Star Wars laser to a collector who is now blackmailing him for the rest of the collection, following him around town, and generally complicating matters.
Krpshtskan is angry at the US (I won't spoil it) and has decided to use the children at Hubble to bring the US to its knees by harnessing the power of the science fair projects. This is a complicated and delicate process, so of course the two operatives sent to the US become addicted to The Shopping Channel at their hotel.
This is a nutty but dense book. Good readers will enjoy all 390 pages of silliness, which is blissfully free of potty humor. I must admit to being slightly annoyed by it, however: the teachers are all portrayed as being evil and letting the rich children get away with anything, there are far too many nicknames, and children today do not have the same visceral fear of Russian sounding names that children in the 60s and 70s did. And I saw the roller skating Barbie plot device coming, having been a fan of Barry's column.
Will the students care? No. But if you see anyone bringing a 50 gallon vat of Coke to science fair after reading this book, make sure you confiscate the giant Mentos or at least break out your wet suit!