Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
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Orphan uses science to save world in fast-paced adventure.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Science, history, math, and more are interwoven with lessons in empathy, integrity, and persistence.

Positive Messages

Max is laser-focused on doing good things, on improving the world not for herself but for everyone around her.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Even though she’s homeless, Max has adults who care for and encourage her.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment, by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, is probably the only adventure book starring a homeless, world-saving girl genius to be published, well, ever, and that this page-turner fills a hole no one knew existed. The book is equal parts lessons in hard science and humanity; in the vacant building 12-year-old Max Einstein and her fellow squatters have commandeered, she’s dreaming about practical applications of scientific theories, such as using the manure of the horses that live in a stable there to power a heating system for the building. But her life turns upside down when she’s asked to save the world -- only to find out someone desperately wants to stop her. This fast-paced adventure is packed with heart and academic content, and can prompt deeper thinking about communities. Readers might not expect that homeless children everywhere will be called on to save the world, but it might give a different perspective on the potential every child has within them, regardless of their home or background.

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What's the story?

In MAX EINSTEIN: THE GENIUS EXPERIMENT, 12-year-old homeless orphan Max (Maxine) Einstein has created a happy life for herself, despite squatting in an abandoned building with a stable of horses in New York City. Her mind never stops racing, whether she’s dreaming up contraptions to improve the everyday lives of her homeless friends, playing chess in the park with adults, or in class at NYU after hacking the computers so she can go to college. But her life is upended when she and a group of young geniuses from around the world are recruited by a mysterious organization to solve some of the world’s most complicated problems. The only thing standing between these brilliant, committed scientists and global success is The Corporation, a greedy, evil entity that knows more about Max’s history than she does, and that will do anything to get her on their side.

Is it any good?

Brainy enthusiasm is front and center in this wholly original story, and it’s fabulous. In lesser books, the fast-paced adventure and witty conversations might make the physics, chemistry, and engineering seem boring, but, thankfully, the science is so pervasive and engaging in Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment, it can’t possibly be overwhelmed. The same illustrations that show Max’s worldwide travels also explain scientific theories in ways that young readers will understand and appreciate.

Max’s homelessness adds depth to her character and weight to the story but never makes it too heavy. Instead, Max’s life opens the way for her to engage thoughtfully with other kids, and have wisdom beyond her 12 years.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Max Einstein’s life as a homeless orphan. What obstacles does she have to overcome to simply go to school, to eat and sleep? Can you imagine yourself in her situation? Do you know any children who are homeless?

  • Max and her friends look to science to solve problems. Can you think of any problems in your life that could be solved scientifically?

  • What other science-filled books have you enjoyed?

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