Parents' Guide to

The Smartest Kid in the Universe, Book 1

By Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Lively middle-school adventure celebrates knowing stuff.

The Smartest Kid in the Universe, Book 1 Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

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You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be on the edge of your seat in this wacky, imaginative adventure. You'll also learn a lot of math and Spanish in the first episode of Chris Grabenstein's brainiac-friendly middle-school adventure series. As hero Jake inadvertently becomes The Smartest Kid in the Universe after eating what he thinks are jelly beans, he and his friends become embroiled in a multi-century epic involving a pirate treasure from colonial times and villains who will stop at nothing to get it. Meanwhile the FBI is putting Jake's newfound skills to work solving more recent crimes. Crucial (and often hilarious) portions of the story are in Spanish, which will have some readers scrambling to keep up, but it's worth the effort. Here's an example:

"'My family is fine, too...,' said Grace. 'In fact, my uncle Charley has never been better. He's about to become something of a hero. Let's just say that tomorrow mi tío hará que sus antepasados se sientan muy, muy orgullosos.'

"'Right,' [villainess replies], blinking some more. 'Let's just say that, shall we?' She watched the three friends boldly stride out the exit. She could tell by their jiggling shoulders that they were snickering at her. Probably because they thought que no podía hablar español.

"But she did. She hablaba español like nobody's business. So she knew the annoying little brats were going to go digging for Dog Breath's booty that very night. Because brainy little Grace had said that tomorrow 'mi tío hará que sus antepasados se sientan muy, muy orgullosos.' Meaning that tomorrow her uncle, Charley Lyons, the direct descendant of the Cubano cabin boy Eduardo Leones, was going to 'make his ancestors very, very proud.'"

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