THE OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: 12 year old Jake’s middle school is about to be shut down. Jake and his friends know their school’s worth saving-if they could only figure out how! When Jake spies a bowl of jellybeans at the hotel where his mom works, he eats them. But uh-oh-those weren’t just jellybeans, one of the scientists at his mom’s conference is in the process of developing the first ingestible information pills. And THAT’S what Jake ate.
Before long, Jake is the smartest kid in the universe. But the pills haven’t been tested yet. And when word gets out about this new genius, people want him. The government. The mega corporations. Not all of them are good people! Can Jake navigate all the ins and outs of his newfound geniusdom (not to mention the ins and outs of middle school!) AND use his smarts to figure out how to save his school? (Hint-it will take someone smart enough to decipher an almost forgotten pirate legend!) It turns out, sometimes even the smartest kid has a lot to learn!
The scenario of an instant high IQ would probably never happen, but what fun to go along this genius ride with Jake McQuade. Before eating the jellybeans, Jake enjoys his mediocre lifestyle. He’s definitely not into learning or homework. It’s all about friends and having a good time. When he becomes smart his already smart friends, Kojo and Grace, are astonished at his brain makeover.
Jake joins their Quiz Bowl team and soon discover they are targets. The dishonest principal and her uncle want the school to be closed so they can access the jeweled treasure buried underneath. Having the Quiz Bowl team fail would convince the school board to send the already deteriorating Riverview Middle to the chopping block.
The plot’s fast pace and third person narration takes readers through 70 short chapters. It’s packed with silliness and a typical first crush. Seems Jake’s jelly bean consumption didn’t make him any better at talking to girls.
Strong kid characters and the enticing story line make this a smart choice for Middle grade readers.
BOOK BIRTHDAY: December 1. 2020 PAGE COUNT: 304
FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: THE SMARTEST KID IN THE UNIVERSE by Chris Grabenstein
- Grace. She’s intelligent and proud of it. Her friendship with Jake was perfectly depicted.
- Kojo. He’s also smart and watches a lot of old TV shows like Kojak. That’s a 1970’s drama about a lollypop sucking New York Detective. Kojo mimics his idol with often humorous results. Of course no middle grade student will catch on unless they can find the show via some obscure cable channel.
- Included in the back pages are mind bending problems to test your own smarts. They aren’t easy but fun to try.
- Mr. Grabenstein has instincts of just what 8-12 year olds need after the year we’ve been through.
- I smell a sequel and sure enough there’s one coming this year: GENIUS CAMP.
THE FIRST OF SIX FUN FACTS ABOUT THE SMARTEST KID IN THE UNIVERSE
(To read the other five visit Chris Grabenstein’s author web site)
Guess where I found the inspiration for the character of Jake McQuade, the seventh-grader who ends up as the smartest kid in the universe? That’s right. In a crosswalk at 79th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in New York City. (Wow. You knew that? Have you been eating jelly beans?)
I was out for a walk in my neighborhood and saw an extremely cool, likable kid, probably twelve or thirteen, crossing the street. This guy was so cool, he was chatting with one bud on his cell phone while knocking knuckles with another he passed in the crosswalk.
From that one image, I created a kid who loved going to school — not to learn stuff but to hang out with his friends and to make sure everybody was having a good day. When the story starts, Jake isn’t exactly lazy. He’s just exertion challenged.
Happy MMGM! Comments are welcome below.