A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Toby risks a lot to keep the terrorists from winning, even when no one believes him and it lands him in deeper and deeper trouble. Some of the humor comes from the depiction of a fake third-world country, but the authors make the country's traditions and government so silly, it's hard to take offense. Toby sells one of his dad's Star Wars keepsakes behind his back to buy himself a computer, but he definitely pays the price for this. Depicts parents of affluent kids as willing to do anything -- especially cheating -- and get anything -- like top-secret technology -- to help their spoiled kids win the science fair; not one of the ME (manor estates) kids is remotely nice.
Violence & Scariness
Plenty of chase scenes involving middle schoolers, the FBI, and crazed Star Wars fans, both on foot and in cars. A terrorist plot involves creating widespread panic through power outages across the country, with the end goal of disabling the U.S. government.
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Products & Purchases
Diet Coke, Mentos, an iPhone, the Wienermobile, Barbie, and Star Wars all play roles in the story, plus there are plenty of mentions of Starbucks and Google. Two bumbling spies get credit cards from the home shopping channel and buy up as much stuff as they can, even if they don't know what it is.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A mention by one stressed dad that he needs a drink.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this story involves a terrorist plot to cause widespread panic through power outages -- the motives are silly ones, however, and not revealed until close to the end. A fake third-world country is also depicted in a very silly manner -- both its government and customs. The main character, Toby, makes some bad calls -- like selling his dad's Star Wars stuff behind his back to buy a computer -- but in the end he tirelessly tries to save the country, even though no one will believe him. The affluent kids at his school are all depicted in a negative light, cheating on their science fair projects and getting their parents to acquire top-secret technology to complete them. There are plenty of chases and escapes, none too scary, and many products play prominent roles in the story like the iPhone, Diet Coke, and Mentos.
Is It Any Good?
SCIENCE FAIR is hilarious. And unlike many books that go for humor over plot, this one ties each silly character quirk and wacky moment directly into the action that moves the story forward. The smelly cheese brought over by foreign spies is thrown at FBI agents in an escape, crazed Star Wars collectors have an appropriately goofy showdown in character with fake weapons, and a frog, a Wienermobile, and a giant Mentos all help foil a terrorist plot in some way.
There's only one minus to the fast-paced fun -- all those adults -- principals, the FBI -- that Toby tries to warn who just won't listen. The explanations that land him in more and more trouble get a little tiring. Otherwise, you can't beat this kind of story to keep all kinds of readers engaged and laughing out loud.
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Our Editors Recommend
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