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Dipannita Ghosh

By Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith
Year 2013, pp. 240, $12.95.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 11 November 2016

As I held the book in my hands and looked down at the two children running away from a scary looking contraption on the cover, I could not help but smile, reminiscing the old days when Dexter’s Laboratory used to send blood rushing through my veins at the prospect of exciting science. Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab is exactly the kind of read one can recommend to get the future generation interested in STEM. The premise of the book contains mystery, adventure, a quirky scatterbrained uncle and dauntless friends to make science fun and exciting. All of this is enough to make the book worth reading but what really takes it up a notch higher is the clever integration of detailed instructions on how to build the gadgets which the protagonists build themselves in the story to aid in their escapades. When their parents, horticulturalists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are mysteriously sent off to Uzbekistan to study some new soybean irrigation technique, Nick and Tesla, the bright twins with a scientific bent of mind, are thrust into spending all of their summer with their Uncle Newt in Half Moon Bay, a small town in Northern California. Reluctantly, they arrive at the San Francisco International Airport only to find that their absent-minded Uncle has forgotten to pick them up. The pace of the story picks up as soon as they board a taxi and start their journey to their Uncle Newt’s home, with a big, black SUV tailing their taxi. Uncle Newt is an eccentric but remarkable inventor who happens to hate raw fruits but eats his meals while hanging from the ceiling because he believes that the digestive system is most effective when one eats like our ancestral apes. Like any typecast mad-scientist, he has a laboratory down in his basement. Even though the tested formula for his peculiarities are worn out due to over-use in every crazy scientist stereotype, yet, it works for the plotline and adds much-needed humour to the story. The despondent start to their summer gets a little better for Nick and Tesla when their Uncle tells them to treat his lab as their own and ‘go nuts’ with it. They build a ‘practically no-tech’ rocket and look around the neighbourhood to test their creation. But things get awry when Tesla’s pendant gets caught on the rocket’s ...

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