Ruby Goldberg's Bright Idea
By Barbara Schultz,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Warm story of science-lover learning to be a good friend.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Ruby Goldberg's Bright Idea is full of facts about science, nature, inventors, and inventions. Readers will learn about the powers of gravity, momentum, electricity, and friction and the procedure kids use to create an elementary school-level science fair project.
Ruby learns that although science and achievement are important, kindness and friendship are more meaningful. Science is no substitute for love.
Positive Role Models
Ruby has helpful, encouraging parents; her devoted grandfather shares his time and wisdom with Ruby and her friends. Her middle school-age sister, Sarah, offers the voice of slightly more experience, which helps Ruby get her priorities straight and renew her friendships.
Violence & Scariness
Ruby accidentally sticks herself with the end of a coat hanger and gives herself a small cut that bleeds.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
An older man calls Ruby's friend Dominic her "boyfriend" (but he's not). Ruby's parents dance to Beatles music.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Ben & Jerry's ice cream is mentioned in the context of great inventors who collaborated. Sarah puts Swiss cheese on Melba toast, while Ruby puts Kraft singles on soda crackers.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that famed cartoonist-inventor Reuben "Rube" Goldberg is both namesake and inspiration to the title character in Anna Humphrey's Ruby Goldberg's Bright Idea. Science-obsessed and somewhat self-involved, the fifth grader sets her heart on winning first prize at the science fair -- and helping her grandpa -- with a Rube Goldberg-type machine. The book presents plenty of scientific facts and ideas, as well as warm friendships and loving families. Parents of young children should note, however, that a beloved pet dies, causing sadness and concern for its owner.
Where to Read
There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
What's the Story?
True to her namesake, cartoonist-inventor Reuben Goldberg, the narrator of RUBY GOLDBERG'S BRIGHT IDEA decides to build a Rube Goldberg machine -- a complex system of actions and reactions that accomplish a simple task -- for her school science fair project. She suspects her most serious rival, a boy named Dominic, is only friendly to her because he's out to steal her ideas. As Ruby struggles to come up with a great concept, a family member's personal loss brings unexpected inspiration. But, as she focuses on the project, she begins to neglect her friendships. Her sister, Sarah, and Dominic help her become a better friend and gain a new perspective on what she's learned.
Is It Any Good?
A heartwarming story with little character development or depth, Ruby Goldberg's Bright Idea offers great values and lots of good fun with science. Ruby and her grandfather have some tender moments, and there's a sweet encounter with a grumpy neighbor. Kids who enjoy scientific experiments and engineering-type projects will have fun following Ruby's process of invention, trial-and-error, and success as she builds her Rube Goldberg machine. Vanessa Brantley Newton's cheerful black-and-white illustrations help readers visualize the characters and inventions.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about science fairs. What kind of experiment or project might you make for a science fair?
What other books have you read about kids who love science? Do they make science more appealing to you?
Try building your own Rube Goldberg machine. What task do you want it to perform?
- Author: Anna Humphrey
- Illustrator: Vanessa Brantley-Newton
- Genre: Friendship
- Topics: STEM, Arts and Dance, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster
- Publication date: December 31, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 144
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 10, 2019
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Read
Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate