Scieszka (the Spaceheadz series) pulls in an array of scientific, cultural, and historical allusions and references Einstein and Frankenstein, sure, but also James Bond, Edison vs. Tesla, the CERN particle collider, and more in this first book in the Frank Einstein series, loosely based around the subject of matter. Not unlike Shelley’s Frankenstein, science whiz Frank is trying to animate a robot he’s built in his garage lab. Frank doesn’t succeed, but in one of the happy accidents that pepper scientific history (ahem, penicillin), Frank inadvertently lays the groundwork for the creation of two “self-assembled artificial-life” entities named Klink and Klank, fashioned from Shop-Vacs, Casio keyboards, and other mechanical detritus. The antimatter motor Frank whips up next for the science fair leads to a confrontation with his nemesis. Biggs’s (the Everything Goes books) two-color cartoons and diagrams run the gamut from silly to scientific, and the same holds true of Scieszka’s story. In refusing to take itself too seriously, it proves that science can be as fun as it is important and useful. Ages 8 12.
Multiple award-winning author Jon Scieszka grew up in Flint, Michigan, the second oldest and the nicest of six boys. Jon went to school at Culver Military Academy in Indiana where he was a Lieutenant; Albion College in Michigan where he studied to be a doctor; and Columbia University in New York, where he received an M.F.A. in fiction. He taught elementary school in New York for ten years in a variety of positions. He is the author of many books for children including the New York Times Best Illustrated Book The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (illustrated by Lane Smith), the Caldecott Honor book The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (illustrated by Lane Smith), and Math Curse (illustrated by Lane Smith). In addition to his work as an author, Jon also runs a web-based literacy program called “Guys Read” that is designed to encourage boys, particularly reluctant readers, to get involved with books. In 2008, Jon was named the country’s first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a joint effort of the Library of Congress and the Children’s Book Council. During his two-year role as Ambassador, he acted as a spokesperson for children’s literature, speaking to groups of parents, teachers, and children to encourage the importance of reading.