Frank Einstein and the BrainTurbo: Frank Einstein, Book 3

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Frank Einstein and the BrainTurbo: Frank Einstein, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Fun sequel serves up science with a splash of philosophy.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Clear, simple explanations of how the major systems of the human body work woven into the narrative and supported with diagrams. Quick and easy experiments demonstrating all the senses. References to IBM's Watson, Alan Turing, the Mutter Museum, and more.

Positive Messages

Humans are lucky to have a very unique way of experiencing existence. There's extraordinary beauty in the everyday. Understanding how systems work helps you come up with ways to try to improve them. Good science requires trial and error.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Frank and Watson are supportive friends, helping Janegoodall improve her pitching, trying to help aging Grandpa Al, searching for Klank, and confronting Edison. Frank approaches problems methodically and is creative in finding solutions. One sour note: The friends break a window playing baseball and run away instead of accepting responsibility.

Violence & Scariness

A chimpanzee destroys property. Fearful people band together against a supposed monster.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Frank Einstein and the BrainTurbo does a surprisingly good job of illustrating how the brain serves as command central for the human body. This third book in the educational and entertaining Frank Einstein series by Jon Scieszka (The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales) boasts plenty of serious science but does some philosophical musing as well. As a robot begins to experience human emotion, Scieszka marvels at the wonder and beauty of the world. A mob turns on a perceived threat, a young child steals from another, kids dodge responsibility for accidental property damage, and a character makes a tremendous sacrifice for the greater good.

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What's the story?

Frank Einstein and his best friend, Watson, want to help pal Janegoodall make the cut to pitch for the Midville Mud Hens. With help from his robots, Klink and Klank, Frank analyzes the key systems of the human body and decides to invent a BrainTurbo to boost her brain function and her overall power. But their rivals, T. Edison and Mr. Chimp, steal the BrainTurbo and Klank, who's delighted to feel human emotions thanks to the device. Edison finds a way to control other people's brains -- and it's up to Frank to try to stop him.

Is it any good?

Jon Scieszka celebrates science and the wonder of human existence in the third book of the smart, silly Frank Einstein series. This time he shows how the human body works via a goofy mind-control plot. Straightforward scientific illustrations by Brian Biggs (EllRay Jakes the Dragon Slayer!) distill complex ideas into easy-to-understand diagrams.

The cartoony plot of FRANK EINSTEIN AND THE BRAINTURBO certainly has some fun stretching the limits of scientific possibility -- such as a Brain Swirler to control other people's minds, and a chimpanzee with villainous aspirations -- but there's much to learn about brain waves, the senses, and human emotion. Simple writing, abundant illustrations, and a steady supply of jokes make this a very successful experiment. The six-part series already has covered matter and energy. Next up: life.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what separates humans from the high-tech creations that do so much of our thinking for us. What makes you distinct from artificial intelligence? What do you think the relationship between humans and technology will be like in the future?

  • How does Frank Einstein and the BrainTurbo compare with the first two books in the series? Do you like that it asks questions that make you think?

  • Use Frank's methodical approach to improve something involving your own body -- your own pitching, perhaps, or another skill.

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