Sunday, May 15, 2011

Atomic secrets

The Atomic Weight of Secrets, or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black, by Eden Unger Bowditch, is the first book in The Young Inventors Guild trilogy.

Jasper and Lucy ran up to their rooms and dropped off their bags. Looking around for a place to put their satchels, they opted to shove the lot under their beds.

"That's as good a place as any," said Jasper, pulling the edge of his quilt down so the satchel was completely hidden.

"I really think it's just awful keeping all these things from Rosie," said Lucy, "and from Miss Brett and. . . It make me feel like a naughty girl."

"Well, you're not a naughty girl. None of us is naughty. And we're not telling lies either. Not really," he said. He stopped rushing for a moment and looked Lucy in the eyes. A sneaky smile spreading across his face, he said, "It is terribly exciting, isn't it, Lucy? I mean, it's exciting as well as dangerous, amazing, historic, and brilliant, and, of course, terrifying, and horridly worrying. Still, all said, it is frightfully thrilling, isn't it?"

Lucy smiled. "Yes," she said in earnest. "Frightfully."

It's a mysterious and charming story. Helena is a little young yet for the attention a book like this requires, but I will encourage her to read it someday. Reminds me a little of Lemony Snicket, but without so much snark, and maybe not quite so nefarious.

A group of kids — 2 girls, 3 boys — ranging in age from 6 to 13, specializing in different kinds of science and themselves the children of the world's most important scientists, are taken from their parents and thrown together into a private boarding school, for them alone.

There's not much the teacher can teach such clever children, but she does find a gap in their education that she is able to fill: nursery rhymes and other children's literature.

On weekends the children are taken to their respective parentless homes, where the nannies attend to their needs. The homes abut a shared meadow.

The children come from unique backgrounds but find they have quite a bit in common when they start to discuss the circumstances by which they came together, so they put their inventive, scientific minds to work toward a common goal. The mysterious men in black factor into their separation from their parents, but it's never clear whether they are their jailers or their protectors.

The review at Young Adult Books Central sums it all up more succinctly than I can.

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