- Sci-Fi Junior High by John Martin
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-316-31516-6 $13.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-316-31515-9 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4-6
As the son of genius scientists parents, Kelvin claims he is a “Mighty Mega Super-genius.” However, he still has to start at a new school where people don’t know him, and he doubles down on the “brilliant kid” facade, trapping himself into role that doesn’t allow for him to really be his naturally goofy, amiable, non-genius but plenty clever self. The new school is filled with extraterrestrial beings, including an adorable (alien) girl, various non-human creatures, and lots of unfamiliar elements to trip Kelvin up, but he tries to take it all in stride and settle in to his new home and life. It’s all pretty standard middle-school stuff, made slightly punchier by the space location, but what really propels this novel is Professor Failenheimer, the villain trying to steal the work of Kelvin’s parents. It’s a classic trope executed so funnily that it manages to seem fresh, and the doctor’s sardonic observations from within the body of a stuffed bunny (hey, failure is part of science) are the best moments in the novel. Amusing black and white illustrations pepper the text, and occasional full-page comics-style panels progress the story. There’s plenty here to warrant another outing with Kelvin, though one hopes Failenheimer, despite appearing defeated, will rebound for an appearance in a sequel.