Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: "Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle" by "Science Bob" Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle by "Science Bob" Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith is a wonderful imaginative, inventive, and interactive children's story.

Nick and Tesla are the 11 year old children of two secret agents who are off on a mission, leaving them with their uncle, an inventor.  After the children received a message from their parents warning them about a dangerous spy, they begin investigating the stream of eccentric characters who come into their uncle's house.

As part of the investigation, Nick and Tesla invent gadgets to help them catch the spy.  These gadgets are always introduced at the end of the chapter, by one of the characters alluding to their invention:
"Someone came into our room and stole it."
"Stole your pendant? But why?"
"I'd rather know who."
 "Let's go find out, then," Nick said.  He stood and put clenched fists on his hips.  "The scientific way." (52)
On the next page, there are a set of simple, easy to understand instructions for a way to find and compare fingerprints.  Using only common household items, the experiment/invention could easily be carried out by an older child reading the book, or younger ones with adult help.

Later inventions include some less common items, which might make them difficult to create, such as a 1.5-3 volt motor and aquarium tubing.  Even if you didn't do the experiments though, I think including the instructions and illustrations would help children to get excited about science and figuring out how things work.

I really appreciated the way science was portrayed in the books.  It was honest about the trial and error process and how the inventions didn't always work out they way the children intended.  For example, the authors describe how "A long, frustrating hour passed before Tesla's idea became a reality" and "on the twentieth try" it finally worked (93).

Though it was written for pre-teens (guessing by the age of the characters), I enjoyed the mystery thoroughly, and it kept me guessing with creative twists.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Quirk Books for this review.  The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

 I am excited to read this and do the experiments with my niece when she gets older!  I have two more Nick and Tesla books to review, so look for those soon!


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed Nick and Tesla! This is book 3 and I've been planning to get it for my classroom. I reviewed book 2 (Robot Army Rampage) on Books Aplenty and several of my students have read both books 1 and 2.

    My students and I love how these are science mysteries. They're pretty exciting =)

    1. Oops I guess I should've paid more attention to the order and started with High Voltage Danger Lab! I'll check out your review :)