A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Backstage peek at moviemaking with lingo, explainers on visual vs. special effects, CGI, and more. Includes scientific concepts such as exothermic reactions and problem-solving skills such as using intersection removal for solving Sudoku puzzles. Packed with DIY projects (making a stunt dummy, a mechanical arm, a camera-steadying rig, and a grappling hook and using special effects makeup).
Resourcefulness and knowledge are powerful tools useful for both creative projects and problem-solving practical challenges.
Positive Role Models
Confident kids with a can-do attitude looking out for each other and important adults in their lives. Adults are engaged with the kids but generally ineffective, though a few step up as allies at key points. Kids willfully disregard instructions to stay away from movie lot, but their intentions are good and they have a strong sense of ethics.
Violence & Scariness
Parents are missing, and their children fear they’re in danger.
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Products & Purchases
References to snack foods (Hershey's, Hot Pockets, Coke, Snapple), cars (Prius, Toyota), technology (iPod, Blu-ray, Wii), and several other brands.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Nick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular, like the other books in this series, has detailed instructions for tackling several projects, including making a Steadicam with PVC pipe, mixing goopy makeup with gelatin, and assembling a stunt prop. Most of the activities advise getting help from an adult, and a note at the start of the book underscores the safety message. Short chapters and plentiful illustrations add to the appeal for developing readers. The loosely woven whodunit probably will make less of an impression than the kids’ work on making a movie themselves -- don't be surprised if you find your home turned into a movie set!
Is It Any Good?
A smart take on the Scooby-Doo formula, this fifth book in the Nick and Tesla series has the twins solving a movie-set mystery. The hands-on adventure includes projects such as making a camera-steadying rig, a mechanical arm, and a stunt dummy. NICK AND TESLA'S SPECIAL EFFECTS SPECTACULAR doesn’t break new ground as a mystery, but it’s an effective strategy for engaging readers with science and innovation without being didactic.
Kids will want to pursue some of the tantalizing tips -- Sudoku fans, for example, may want to learn more about strategy, and kids with an interest in video will get lots of ideas. Though this is part of an unfolding story about the disappearance of Nick and Tesla's parents, it can easily be read as a standalone book.
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