Nick and Tesla’s Solar-Powered Showdown by Bob Pflugfelder

Nick and Tesla’s Solar-Powered Showdown by Bob PflugfelderNick and Tesla's Solar-Powered Showdown: A Mystery with Sun-Powered Gadgets You Can Build Yourself by Bob Pflugfelder, Steve Hockensmith
Published by Quirk Books on May 10, 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Juvenile Fiction, Science
Pages: 264
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.
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four-stars

Super-smart kid inventors Nick and Tesla Holt have outsmarted crooks, spies, and kidnappers, but now it’s time to crack their biggest mystery yet: where the heck are their parents? With the help of their eccentric Uncle Newt, the twins trace the clues to their missing Mom and Dad, scientists working on solar-power research for a clandestine government project. They’ll need all their wits, along with an assortment of homemade gadgets, to outsmart the criminal mastermind who’s trying to turn solar power into a secret weapon. Featuring instructions for building and using five awesome solar-powered contraptions—a hot dog cooker, alarm bell, listening device, model car, and nighttime LED signal cannon—this sixth installment is sure to please budding scientists and sleuthers alike.

The Nick and Tesla series caught my eye sometime last year after I heard about it in my local homeschooling circle, but I never got around to looking into them further. So I was pretty excited to receive a review copy of Nick and Tesla’s Solar-Powered Showdown from Quirk Books (thanks, Kelsey!).

This story was a lot of fun! It was like reading a modern, sillier, geekier version of The Hardy Boys. It was adventurous, smart, clever, and funny. Sometimes the silliness was over the top, but that’s probably my adult lens speaking: I think there’s a generous window when elementary school-aged kids are totally into that goofy sort of humor. And I love that the twins here are a boy and a girl, because, as we all know, girls love science, too!

This book didn’t really work as a read-aloud with my daughter C, but she’s still a few years under the target age range (ages 9-12). I have a feeling she’ll enjoy it when she’s reading at this level on her own. However, C was very interested in the projects included throughout the story. This month she started 2nd grade (we homeschool year-round) and it’s been hot around here lately. The Guaranteed-Not-to-Explode Frankfurter Heater-Upper was the perfect project to kick off our science studies!

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From a parent perspective, I liked that 1) the instructions were very clear and straightforward, and 2) many of the materials needed for these projects are things we already had around the house. Some projects would require going to a place like Radio Shack for a few supplies, but other projects were much simpler. The only items I had to buy for our hot dog cooker were a can of Pringles and bamboo skewers.

Even though this is part of a series, you don’t have to read these in order. C has already decided she wants to check out Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage next. Because robots!

four-stars
  • Words for Worms

    There is little in this world that makes me happier than seeing that little cutie pie doing science experiments!

  • “A modern, sillier, geekier version of The Hardy Boys.”

    This sounds perfect for my girls! I love the pictures of C. She looks like she’s having a great time.