Scieszka, Jon. Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor
August 19th 2014
by Amulet Books
ARC from Baker and Taylor
Frank is hoping to win the Midville science competition by creating a robot with a thought process driven by a neural network rather than linear programming.He manages to succeed, although the robot Klink is slightly more intelligent than the robot Klank, whose memory is from a digital watch and who has significant parts from a Hug Me Monkey doll and a keyboard. Since the robots created themselves, he doesn't feel it's right to enter them into the competition, even though he hopes to use the prize money to help out his grandpa Al, who runs a fix it shop out of a converted factory. The robots help Frank and his friend Watson create an antimatter motor for a Fly Bike, but the robots and motor are stolen by the evil and conniving T. Edison and his evil sidekick, Mr. Chimp, who hope to win the competition and put Al out of business. When the science prize is given to T. Edison without any competition, he fends off any complaints by awarding money to each competitor. This doesn't assuage Frank, though, and thanks to his robots, he is able to save the day enough to come back for book two.
Strengths: It is a rare book that includes BOTH Asimov's Rules for Robots and a plot synopsis of Pilkey's Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants. That in itself should win this book some kind of award. Combine that with copious illustrations, robots, a chimpaneze who knows sign language and a flying bike-- you've got middle grade gold. Bonus: If you are a Lit God like Scieszka, you can have both Jeff Kinney and Tom Angleberger blurb your book!
Weaknesses: Scieszka's Knucklehead set the bar incredibly high for me. It is the funniest thing I have ever read in my life, and I keep expecting everything else by Scieszka to make me laugh so hard that I get lightheaded. This didn't, so I was vaguely disappointed. Had it been by anyone else, I would have thought it was brilliant, but I just want more of Knucklehead's realistic, slightly older humor!