Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray

Scholastic. (Elements of Genius: Bk. 1). Jul. 2019. 288p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781338295214.
Gr 4-6–Twelve-year-old Nikki Tesla and her pet ferret Pickles have been sent to the Genius Academy, where she can make inventions in her own laboratory without the threat of blowing up her home. Nikki has never been good at making friends, and she has no intention of making any at this school, either. That is, until her death ray is stolen. Now she has to learn how to work with her classmates as they race around the globe piecing together clues to save the world from destruction by an evil villain. Occasionally the plot is lost as Nikki explains repeatedly why she doesn’t want or need friends, but it comes back around. Each Genius Academy student (Leo da Vinci, Charlotte Darwin) is modeled on a notable historical figure. Most of the personages referenced were white and European, though the characters named after them appear more diverse in the book’s illustrations. The integration of art and geography into the science fiction plot is seamless. The end pages contain information about the real Nikola Tesla and his possible invention of a death ray.
VERDICT Readers will enjoy this fast-paced adventure

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