Thursday, December 5, 2013

Book Review: Nick and Tesla's High Voltage Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder

Nick and Tesla's High Voltage Danger Lab
Author: Bob Pflugfelder
Publication: Quirk Books (November 5, 2013)

Description: Nick and Tesla are bright 11-year-old siblings with a knack for science, electronics, and getting into trouble. When their parents mysteriously vanish, they’re sent to live with their Uncle Newt, a brilliant inventor who engineers top-secret gadgets for a classified government agency. It’s not long before Nick and Tesla are embarking on adventures of their own—engineering all kinds of outrageous MacGyverish contraptions to save their skin: 9-volt burglar alarms, electromagnets, mobile tracking devices, and more. Readers are invited to join in the fun as each story contains instructions and blueprints for five different projects.

In Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab, we meet the characters and learn how to make everything from rocket launchers to soda-powered vehicles. Learning about science has never been so dangerous—or so much fun!

My Thoughts: This scientific mystery begins when Nick and Tesla arrive at the eccentric Uncle Newt's home. Their parents have been call to Uzbekistan to study irrigation techniques on soybeans. They work for the US Department of Agriculture. The eleven-year-old twins are supposed to spend the summer with their uncle.

Their uncle starts things off by forgetting to pick them up at the airport. They take a taxi to his home and find him glued to the floor of his lab. One of his inventions isn't working quite as he expected! The kids are left pretty much on their own and their uncle gives them free reign in his lab though he does tell them areas to avoid.

Tesla is the more adventurous of the twins and Nick is the more cautious one. However, each support the other no matter what they are doing. They first decide to build a rocket. The step-by-step directions are included in the book. When they launch the rocket, it goes into a spooky neighbor's house taking a locket their parents gave Tesla with it. Determined to get it back, they run into mysterious and unfriendly "remodelers," fierce rottweilers, and a mysterious young girl in an upstairs room.

They recruit a couple of the neighborhood kids to help them with their plans to outwit the "remodelers" and rescue the girl. They need some more inventions including an alarm system made with a Christmas tree light, a battery, wire and a couple of quarters and a tracking system using a highlighter and a black light. Directions for both of those inventions are included too.

The story is exciting and suspenseful. Adding to the mystery is the black SUV that seems to be following the kids wherever they go. When the driver comes to their rescue, she raises more questions than she answers. Nick and Tesla really begin to wonder if their parents really are scientists working for the Department of Agriculture...or are they spies?

We will need to read book 2 - Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage - to learn more about the bigger story. While waiting, young scientists can visit NickandTesla.com for instructions to build more gadgets, videos of science experiments, author interviews, and other cool stuff.

Favorite Quote:
Off to the left was a living room lined with enough books to put some libraries to shame, a semi-transparent couch made of inflated plastic bags, and a wide-screen TV connected by frayed cords to a small trampoline. The ceiling over the trampoline was cracked and cratered, as if someone kept bouncing a little too high. A dented football helmet was lying nearby on the floor.
I received this book from Quirk in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.

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