by Ellis Weiner
Chronicle Books | September 2012 (pre-order now!)
Twelve-year-old twins John and Abigail Templeton have an absent-minded inventor father, Elton. When he abruptly has to leave the university where he teaches, he and the kids pack up and go to the famous Tick Tock Tech. Soon, crazy things start happening which result in the kidnapping of the twins and their clever plan to foil the evil twins, Dan D. Dean and Dean D. Dean, who are out to steal Elton's invention. All the while, the narrator telling the story is a character in his own right, talking directly to the reader and overtly holding back some information. This is book one in a planned series, and sets it up nicely leaving all kinds of questions, which likely will lead young readers waiting for the next installment.
Each chapter is entitled something hilarious, such as The Story Actually Does Get Started and Introducing Cassie, the Ridiculous Dog Who is Not a Jack Russell. At the end of each chapter are "Questions for Review" which are also hilarious. An example: "1. Why do you think someone would scrawl the word THIEF over a picture of nice Professor Templeton? 2. Isn't it silly to try to answer Question 1? Shouldn't you just keep your "theories" to yourself and continue reading? 3. True or False (circle one): The Narrator is a wonderful person. T F."
Between the intrusive narrator, the silliness of the story itself, the likeability of the characters, the interesting design (graphed pages, invention drawings), the occasional speech bubble integrated into the text, and the pleasing trim size (6"x8"), this book will likely be enjoyed by many a middle-grader.