Thursday, April 2, 2015

Woo-Hoo! Early Reviewer!! Nick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular: A Mystery with Animatronics, Alien Makeup, Camera Gear, and Other Movie Magic You Can Make Yourself!

LibraryThing Early Reviewers

 Well, after putting my name in the drawing for several months, I finally got a book from the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. Without further ado. . . my first review:

Nick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular:  A Mystery with Animatronics, Alien Makeup, Camera Gear, and Other Movie Magic You Can Make Yourself!

This is the fourth or fifth Nick and Tesla book, but only the second that I’ve read after the debut. I received this book as part of the Library Thing Early Reviewers program in return for my honest review, so here it is:

Nick and Tesla are a twin brother and sister team who have scientist parents who have suddenly disappeared on a business trip shrouded in mystery. While they are gone, Nick and Tesla have been sent to live with an eccentric uncle that is also a scientist. Nick and Tesla have a great interest in science and minimal adult supervision, so their adventures begin.

The thing that I really like about these books is that the kids use their science knowledge to solve their problems, and the authors have given detailed instructions for each project alongside the story. As an elementary school librarian, I love that I can use this book to get my non-fiction readers into a fiction book, and get my fiction readers interested in science.

In this story, Nick and Tesla are invited onto a movie set that has been plagued with troubles, which could cause their friend’s aunt’s producing career to take a nose-dive. They begin to search for clues and motive, creating several impressive gadgets along the way. In the end, the mystery is solved, the aunt’s career is saved, and Nick and Tesla are heroes of the day.

I was glad that the kids solved the mystery in this book by themselves, rather than having adults swoop in and save the day at the end like they did in the first book. That said, I’m not sure the significance of the clues was brought out enough to allow the intended reader to connect the dots along the way, rather than remaining confused until the pieces were put together for you at the end.

I liked the projects in this book, although not all projects / illustrations were present in the advance copy I received. They seemed doable for the age group that is targeted in this book. I thought that the subject of movie-making was a nice backdrop to the story, although the mystery of what Nick and Tesla’s parents are up to did not move forward at all.

All in all, this book is a great addition to the elementary library, with likeable characters and a quick-paced story.

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