This is one that my husband found. It’s a graphic novel featuring extra-geeky science kids – what could be better?
The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis.
Julian Calendar is a brainy geek, and he knows it. He’s never had a friend, but he’s just starting at a new school, and hopes that if he pretends to be a normal kid and hides his brains that he’ll be able to fit in. Naturally, his attempts go poorly – he asks people about sports that aren’t in season and sometimes forgets himself in class and starts giving over-the-top answers to science or math problems. But – after getting over trying to be normal – he answers a coded message and meets up with two equally smart kids from his school. Both of them can hide at school, but are still full of great ideas. Greta Hughes is a prankster who hides a camera system in the back of her ever-present bike helmet, while Ben is a very tall basketball star. Together, they form the Secret Science Alliance. They have a secret hideout underneath a vacant lot, accessed by an elevator in an old dog house where they work on their inventions: the Koblovsky Copter (named for the town’s fictional famous inventor), Nightsneak Goggles, and lots of things for practical joking. But when a famous living inventor steals their invention notebook and plans to use their inventions to steal valuable items from the town museum, run by Greta’s father, they have to take action, even if it means sneaking out after bedtime.
This is a truly top-notch graphic novel. We truly get to know all the characters, and the plot started mostly believably and ramped up to kids saving their idea and the museum in a way that made it very hard to put down. It’s never stressed, but Greta is African-American and Ben seems Hispanic, so it’s clear but unstated that braininess isn’t confined to white boys. Davis uses geeky innovations on the standard comic book style that I just loved – the pie-chart diagram of the inside of Julian’s head, for example, with all the geeky percentages labeled and maps and diagrams of places whenever helpful. In a small but instantly understandable touch, she draws overlapping word bubbles if someone is talking and no one else is listening. I was a little surprised that the subject of patenting their inventions never came up, and more than a little disappointed to find that the Secret Science Alliance has had no further adventures. Nevertheless, this is a great book to give to the young geeks in your life. I read it aloud to our son, and it was so fun that it prompted cries of “Aww” and requests for one more chapter whenever it was time to stop.