Book Review: The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis
A humble suggestion:
If you see this book, open it up, flip through it. The sheer amount of creativity and inventiveness is stunning. Eleanor Davis (creator of last year’s Geisel Honor-winning easy reader graphic novel Stinky) takes ideas that have been done before, adds elements that are brand new, churns it all through her imagination, and creates an highly detailed graphic novel that makes most others look half-baked. In doing so Davis proves herself as a talent to watch. The result is a wildly entertaining book full of humor and action, sure to go down as one of the best graphic novels of ’09.
The short, geeky Julian Calendar has trouble fitting in. When his family moves to a new town, Julian sees it as his opportunity to finally find friends. His intelligence gets in the way however, as Julian overthinks things and exposes his inner nerd. The situation looks bleak until our hero receives a coded message, leading him to tough-girl Greta Hughes and basketball star Ben Garza. The three become fast friends, practicing their scientific endeavors in a secret underground lab. When scientist Dr. Wilhelm Stringer steals the group’s invention notebook, with plans to pull a museum heist, The Secret Science Alliance use all their know-how (and gadgets) to stop the theft.
Every element of The Secret Science Alliance, down to the use of word bubbles and panels, has been carefully considered and fully realized. The amount of detail makes the mind reel. Cut-aways and diagrams are liberally used, encouraging readers to pore over pages at close range. Not a spread goes by without some sort of unique way of moving the story ahead. Panels that are the shape of arrows, pointing you in the right direction. Panels in the form of clouds when Julian is daydreaming. Panels waived altogether, allowing objects to lay on the page as if they were sitting on a table. It’s a joy to see what comes next.
Funny, yes. Entertaining, no doubt. Magnificently illustrated, to be sure. But it’s more than that. The Secret Science Alliance may be capable of a difficult feat – drawing in readers who have never been interested in graphic novels before. A must add.
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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