177. The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook

The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis

Pages: 154
Ages: 9+
Finished: Oct. 4, 2009
First Published: Sep. 1, 2009
Genre: graphic novel, children, adventure
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

I made a working model of the Wright Brothers' Flyer for my history project!

Reason for Reading: Cybils nominee. I also read and enjoyed Davis' first children's graphic novel, Stinky.

Summary: Every day Julian Calendar is teased at school for being nerdy and smart. Then one day his family tells him they are moving and Julian is delighted; he can start all over again. His first day at the new junior high he pretends to be everything he is not but it's not that easy and he slips up in class and let's his brains show. He is secretly contacted by two fellow brainiac inventors and they become fast friends working on inventions every spare minute they have. But it's time for them to form an alliance when a dastardly scientist steals their schematics plan book and hatches a devious plot. Can they stop him in time using only their wits and inventions?

Comments: I wasn't overly crazy about this book, which ends on a note that feels as if it may be the first in a series featuring the Secret Science Alliance (SSA, for short). The plot and the story were actually quite good, a little slow to get going, but once it did I really enjoyed it. The pacing was very well-timed with the tension slowly mounting throughout the story until the ending became very quick and fast paced. The three kids are also very real characters each with their own flaws and as a group they compliment each other and show positive teamwork in action.

My problem is with the graphic aspect of the book. It is too fussy. There is too much going on, too much text, too many graphics. There are diagrams with arrows pointing here and there and zooming in for close ups with text labels naming all the technical parts of the inventions and surroundings. Their are pages of the science notebook shown randomly in scenes written on notebook paper which reminded me of the old Magic School Bus books. Same with the graphics; there are frames within frames and each layout is very crowded. To me the graphic design gets in the way of rather than enhancing or becoming one with the story. I prefer Eleanor Davis's first book, Stinky, which won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award.


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