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


  1. Grace. She’s intelligent and proud of it. Her friendship with Jake was perfectly depicted.
  2. 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.
  3. Included in the back pages are mind bending problems to test your own smarts. They aren’t easy but fun to try.
  4. Mr. Grabenstein has instincts of just what 8-12 year olds need after the year we’ve been through.
  5. I smell a sequel and sure enough there’s one coming this year: GENIUS CAMP.


(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.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. I love the premise of eating jelly beans and becoming instantly smart. I will definitely try to get my hands on this one. Thanks.

  2. Oh, what a fun read for youth! Think it will be a welcomed addition to school libraries! What kid wouldn’t want to eat some jelly beans and become a genius. Love the shady part of this too. For some reason I thought of Freaky Friday! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Danielle Hammelef says:

    I preordered this fun book and just couldn’t stop reading. I am already looking forward to the sequel. The characters are so much fun and I loved, loved the humor.

  4. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    This sounds like a super-fun story! I remember reading some of the books that Grabenstein “ghostwrote” for James Patterson and thinking they would absolutely appeal to kids, and I’m sure this one will as well. Thanks for the great post!

  5. Jenni says:

    I love this premise! It sounds hilarious! My older son always loved reading books about smart kids, (he’s one himself) when he was a MG-er. He especially loved books with puzzles!
    I’m going to have to get a copy of this, because I love books about smart kids too.

  6. Sounds like a fun story! I happen to love eating jelly beans. Hmmmm.

  7. This sounds so fun! What a creative storyline and I can only imagine the fun and trouble that would come with becoming an instant genius! I love jelly beans- so I would have eaten them all too! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

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