Parents' Guide to

Rebel Genius: Rebel Geniuses, Book 1

By Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Creative fantasy blends art, mysticism, math, and magic.

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Math meets magic in this inspired fantasy adventure, infused with the same sense of mysticism and philosophy that author Michael Dante DiMartino brought to his animated TV work. Rebel Genius -- the first in a planned series -- is sort of The Da Vinci Code for kids. DiMartino builds an Italianate world and then develops an epic quest that draws from diverse religious references (including golems and Christian imagery) and art history, particularly da Vinci's Vetruvian Man.

The writing sometimes plods, but the creative elements -- particularly the bird Geniuses and the interplay of art, math, and magic -- keep the story from getting bogged down. DiMartino's black-and-white illustrations -- as if drawn from Giacomo's sketchbook -- help explain key mathematical concepts and bring several characters to life. The fantasy world and key themes deepen considerably, setting an intriguing stage for the next installment.

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