National Geographic KIDS is back with a book full of smart girl power. All the girls share the last name of a famous scientist/inventor: Izzy Newton, Allie Einstein, Charlie Darwin, Marie Curie, and Gina Carver.

It’s the beginning of sixth grade at Atom Middle School and Izzy is excited to see her old friend Marie who has returned from France. Marie has changed and is acting rather offish, avoiding Izzy, Allie, and Charlie. She’d rather spend time with her new friend, Gina.

While the girl drama escalates, the temperature at the school has plummeted. Everyone has to wear coats to combat the chill. Conditions don’t improve, and Izzy and friends begin to investigate the cause. Using the scientific procedure and some promising hypotheses, the girls still can’t solve the cold problem. What they do discover is the reason behind Marie’s attitude and the S.M.A.R.T. (Solving Mysteries And Revealing Truths) Squad is born. Together they’re going to solve the school’s icy situation.

The third person narration is accompanied by the occasional illustration that perfectly depicts the scene. Friend drama books are always popular and to have it set in the first year of middle school makes it even more appealing. Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T. Squad won’t be as likeable for boys, but hopefully we’ll see more books like this for them in the future.

Friendship issues and Science make a great partner in this promising new series.


Part of the creative team behind the American Girl series, Valerie Tripp has written many of the American Girl books about Felicity, Josefina, Samantha, Kit, Molly, and Maryellen. She also wrote American Girl’s Welliewisher and Hopscotch Hill School books. Tripp has also written numerous levled readers, songs, stories, skills book pages, poems, and plays for educational publishers and is the editorial director of the Boys Camp series. She is a frequent speaker at schools and libraries.

Geneva Bowers is a self-taught illustrator who lives in the North Carolina mountains. Her drawing career started at age seven, when she wanted to draw horses better than her sister. Bowers works mostly digitally, using a vivid palette and simple shapes to create interesting images that reflect whimsy with a touch of realism. She has illustrated several webcomics, books, and book covers and is a 2018 Hugo award winner.


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All you have to do is blog about a middle grade book on a Monday (contests, author interviews, or anything middle grade related also count). Email me the title of the book or feature and a link to your blog at gpcolo[at]gmail[dot]com
Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately–and please don’t forget to say what book or author you’re featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening (11 PM Eastern Time) in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.
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About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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  1. This sounds like the perfect middle grade read with realistic drama. I love that the girls all have names of famous scientist, doctors etc. How cool is that. That would be a great gift to a child — name them after someone important. I know our son was given the name of Matthew after St. Matthew, when he went to live in a Catholic orphanage in India at a very young age. And, since they didn’t know his exact birthday, he was given the birthday of St. Matthew. He was so proud of that!

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