Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor: Frank Einstein, Book 1

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor: Frank Einstein, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Scientific smarts and goofy humor are a winning experiment.

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Kids say

age 9+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The book delves deeply into science concepts, from the scientific method to the basics of antimatter and Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. Two dozen diagrams identify parts of an insect leg, label the components of an atom, explain how a maglev skateboard might work, and more. Mr. Chimp communicates with American Sign Language, and the alphabet is diagrammed at the back of the book.

 

Positive Messages

Frank demonstrates the benefits of having an open mind, strategic thinking, and a willingness to try again after setbacks. While goals are important, the process itself is a valuable experience. Accidents can lead to important breakthroughs -- like the story of how cornflakes were invented. 

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Frank is ambitious but flexible, in the true spirit of scientific curiosity. He takes setbacks in stride. He's more interested in scientific engagement than getting rewards. Although he isn't always the most attuned friend, Frank's loyal to his friends and family. His rival, Edison, is scheming and underhanded. Frank's traveling parents are comically clueless about his clever work, and his Grampa Al is a quirky, supportive mentor. 

 

Violence & Scariness

Edison's sidekick, Mr. Chimp, is menacing but there's no violence. Characters are threatened with an antimatter device.

 

Language

One character calls another a "jerk."

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jon Scieszka's Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor is the first in a planned six-book series exploring matter, energy, humans, life, Earth, and the universe. A vibrant writing style, abundant illustrations, and creative typography appeal to both young and reluctant readers, and two dozen scientific diagrams will reward those looking for more depth. Frank shows how fascinating and fun science can be, and how it can influence your attitude and your friendships.

 

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What's the story?

Frank Einstein's first attempt to build a SmartBot -- and win science prize money to pay his Grampa Al's bills -- fizzles. But a lightning storm provides the needed jolt for two artificial-intelligence robots named Klink and Klank to assemble themselves in his garage lab and help Frank and his friend Watson work on a prize-winning invention: an antimatter motor. But then their nemesis, T. Edison, steals Klink and Klank to try to beat Frank to the prize -- and seize Grampa Al's home, as well.

Is it any good?

FRANK EINSTEIN AND THE ANTIMATTER MOTOR kicks off Jon Scieszka's science-based series with a satisfying bang. Frank's an enjoyable character with a good heart and a Sherlock Holmes-style knack for seeing several moves ahead of everyone else. Science is woven into the narrative at every step. Some of the particulars may be beyond younger readers, but there's enough here to keep them engaged and appeal to kids with a strong interest in science.

Brian Biggs' plentiful black-and-red illustrations will lure even reluctant readers, who may find themselves poring over a diagram of an eyeball or an illustration showing how a singing fish toy can be rigged to a doorbell. Don't be surprised if your aspiring tinkerer starts asking for a garage lab of his own.

 

 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the diagrams complement the story. Do you find it easier to understand information written out or illustrated in a diagram -- or does it depend on what you're learning?

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  • Does knowing why things happen -- for example, why a sunset is so colorful -- add or take away from the everyday magic around you?

  • Try making a diagram explaining how one of your toys works.

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