Saturday, January 22, 2022

Rube Goldberg and His Amazing Machines

Snider, Brandon T. Rube Goldberg and His Amazing Machines
November 16th 2021 by Harry N. Abrams
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Rube is starting middle school, and is excited to hear that Principal Kim is having a Contraption Convention. Since Rube is an aspiring young inventor, he thinks this is an auspicious start. He needs this, especially after he and his best friend, Boob (whose real name is Bob), get off to a rocky start and are escorted to their first day by Officer Bacon. While he's excited about the contest at first, and hopes to work with Boob and Pearl, there's a lot going on in Rube's life that interferes with his creativity. His father is often gone, and his grandmother is not able to pick up all of the slack. Rube is anxious about a lot of things, and manages to alienate his friends. Will he be able to overcome his challenges and use his inventing capabilities to save the day?

Quirky and pell mell in style, this would be a good choice for fans of Pastis' Timmy Failure, Parisi's Marty Pants, and Patterson's jimmy books. The illustration style was somewhat similar to Seegert and Martin's Sci Fi Junior High, and had a definite MAD Magazine feel to it, although since publication of that satirical periodical ceased in 2019, this is not a selling point to younger readers. 

There is lots of middle grade humor in this-- Rube and Boob are accused of being perverts shouting "butts", there are sneezes that coat others in mucus, and there's a teacher with an unfortunate toupee. Interspersed with this are more serious issues about families, relationships with friends, and the pressures of school projects. It's good to see that Rube has some friends, even if he has some difficulties with them, and that they share his scientific interests. 

While this is an illustrated novel, it is much lighter on illustrations than many notebook novels, and the text is very small for this type of book. Still, readers who want a heaping dose of science and invention with their humor (or who might be looking for ideas for their own Invention Conventions!) will find Rube's challenges very interesting. Hand this to readers who enjoyed Scieszka and Biggs' Frank Einstein series, Clements' Jake Drake Books, Nye and Mone's Jack and the Geniuses, and Short's Maggie and Nate Mysteries

Not quite sure about this one. I think I will give the copy to one of my fervent notebook novel readers to see if I should add this to the collection. The print is REALLY dense, and I'm not sure my notebook novel fans will be willing to pick this one up. 

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