Thursday, December 06, 2018

MMGM- Teen Sleuths

Grabenstein, Chris and Patterson, James. Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment
October 8th 2018 by jimmy patterson
Public library copy

Max is an orphan living in an abandoned building above a horse stable in New York City. She doesn't have any clues about her past other than a suitcase with pictures of Albert Einstein in it. She is very brilliant, and attends university in the city, and also comes up with plans to use horse manure to heat her building-- unfortunately, that would cost a lot of money. She has a supportive network of other homeless people who live in the building, so she is a little leery when three adults come to take her away, especially after she has just been in foster care and a creepy teaching adjunct has also tried to remove her from the situation. Luckily, she ends up with other genius children from around the world in the Change Makers Institute, where they are all treated well and given the world's biggest problems to solve. The children all have special skills and are brilliant, but when there is a contest, Max wins. Instead of working alone, she asks to have the other children help her. Together, they try to make a change in a small African village where the residents have no electricity. Even after they install solar panels, they are damaged by a local war lord, so the children have to learn to deal with difficult people as well as difficult science problems. Max's old home is fixed up by the CMI, and more adventures are surely on their way.
Strengths: Patterson and Grabenstein have done their homework. This has STEM topics, a strong female character, a multicultural group of children, and improbably adventure. The inclusion of drawing will help make this appeal to readers of other jimmy books.
Weaknesses: You know who else did their homework? The people who created The Monkees. While I personally adore The Monkees, I feel the same way about jimmy books that real rock fans felt about this manufactured group in the 1960s. I'm not alone. I've talked to several students about Potty Mouth and Stoopid, and none of them liked that book. One very astute 6th grader felt it was more for elementary school students. Max Einstein was just so improbable that it was hard to read.
What I really think: I'll probably buy it, but I don't believe the hype that science-minded girls will particularly enjoy it.

Cain, Chelsea. Confessions of a Teen Sleuth
April 1st 2005 by Bloomsbury USA
Donated by John O'Connor and the Kiwanis

*Snerk* We have a lovely group here in Westerville that gather books from Half Price Books, the public library, and other places, and redistribute them to schools. My library helpers occasionally label books for this group. This book showed up in one of the donation piles, and really isn't for children-- it's a parody for people who read Nancy Drew and all the other fiction series of the 1950s and 60s, so Mr. O'Connor brought it right to me. It was the best part of my day!

Nancy has long suffered at the poor depiction of her life by Carolyn Keene, her college roommate who took her stories of high school detection and made her fame from them. This volume puts those stories right. From her weird relationship with Ned Nickerson, whom she is always much happier rescuing than hanging out with, to her love child with Frank Hardy, we see all the untold stories of Nancy's slim-skirted existence. The other characters in Nancy's story are all there, and Cherry Ames, Tom Swift, Donna Parker, and other series characters show up. The book is set up to follow Nancy's life through a variety of cases, starting in 1926 and continuing until Nancy gets to a happy place for her old age in 1992.

While not completely inappropriate for the young, they wouldn't get all of the allusions, nor should they. I laughed and laughed, and I was also a bit glad at Cherry Ames' demise.

Now I really want to read Donna Parker. Sigh.

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