Phineas L. MacGuire Series for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

I accidentally ran into this book series, otherwise Phineas L. MacGuire would have remained an unknown for me. While at the local library, lost in the shelves of children’s novel section, I rounded the corner and my knee connected with shelf #2. Down to the ground went six books. With the lady at the front desk craning her head to see what I was up to, my eyes looked down to see 51WN0j8jUFLPhineas L. MacGuire staring up at me in three different poses. …Erupts! from 2007; …Gets Slimed! from 2010; and …Blasts Off! from 2011. I decided this was fate and checked them out – due back in three weeks.

Once home and before I had time to begin reading, I checked out the author’s web site (Frances O’Roark Dowell) and also found Phineas has his own web site. Phineas is a fourth grade scientist – he thinks like one, acts like one, and loves doing experiments. His website is completely science based and well worth your time.

The lower word count found in each book, nice large type, and a few tidy plot points certainly make it feel like a third or fourth grader may want to pick up these books. The series is very much for lower middle grade in every way but one. Phineas narrates the stories himself and often uses long sentences and large words to get his point across – just what you would expect from a budding scientist. This makes the readability level higher (5.0-5.3) than many recent Newbery winners. Not a concern, just a caution.

PUBLICATION DATE:2007-14    LEVEL: 5+  WORD COUNT: under 20,000 each

PLOT (From Renaissance Learning): Each of the books centers around a science theme. For …Erupts! it’s building a volcano for a science fair. Fourth-grade science whiz Phineas MacGuire is forced to team up with the new boy in class on a science fair project, but the boy’s quirky personality causes Phineas to wonder if they have any chance of winning.

…Gets Slimed! When his new best friend, Ben, decides to run for class president, fourth-grade science whiz Phineas MacGuire reluctantly agrees to be his campaign manager in exchange for help with his latest experiment, cultivating exhibits for a mold museum.

…Blasts Off Hoping to earn money to attend Space Camp, fourth-grade science whiz Phineas MacGuire gets a job as a dog walker and then enlists the aid of his friends Ben and Aretha to help with experiments using the dog’s “slobber.”


  1. If you love science, you’ll love Mac (Phineas’s preferred name) and his scientific methods. Directions for the experiments described in each story are included in the back pages for you to replicate.
  2. The penciled illustrations scattered throughout the books are charming and complement the story.
  3. The words are there for a purpose and include life lessons like cooperation, second chances, and goal setting.
  4. The humor and the decision making of a fourth grade mind is beautifully brought forth. In one scene Mac decides getting his shirt dirty is worth the five minute lecture he’ll get from his Mom.
  5. Reluctant readers may find this the perfect series to begin opening up to more reading.

The above stated release dates of this series is not a typo because the fourth Phineas L MacGuire book will be arriving this year. Phineas L. MacGuire… Gets Cooking will take a unique route to the bookshelf. It will be released in three parts first through Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories Program, then later in the year as a full blown hardback.

If you have a new middle grade reader, this series is sure to please and get them started off on the right foot.


I am allergic to fifteen things. My Mom says this is not true, that I’m only allergic to two things, peanuts and car hair. But I am a scientist, and she’s not.

Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
This entry was posted in Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Phineas L. MacGuire Series for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. Barbara Watson says:

    Very thorough! I haven’t read any of these either. Maybe your highlighting them is my knee colliding with shelf 2.

  2. Deb Marshall says:

    Glad you came upon these. Sounds like they would be a good addition to our library shelves! Have them all marked to read. Thanks!

  3. I hadn’t heard of these, and I don’t come across as many younger MG books on my own, so thanks for the tip. I will definitely check them out!

  4. Pingback: A Year of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! Are You Kidding? | Always in the Middle

Place your thoughts here with a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.