Jumping into the world of Nick Newton is like waking up in a faraway place in an imaginary era. The abundance of intriguing gadgetry immediately establishes Nick Newton Is Not a Genius by S. E. M. Ishida as fanciful. But there’s something captivatingly simple and wholesome about this family of eccentric artists and inventors that will remind readers of a bygone era.
The story opens with everyone trying to decide what to do about Nick. His application to genius school has been rejected, leaving his parents scrambling to find an alternative source of quality education for him. (Being a non-genius makes him somewhat of a novelty in his family.) After observing the limited success of homeschooling conducted by the family’s butler, Nick’s parents decide to place the fifth grader in the school of a Mr. Solomon Volk, who was himself a bit of an academic misfit and whose school is run almost exclusively by robots.
Robotics is not new territory for Nick Newton. Having found a robotic bird in pieces in his attic, he reassembles it and takes it for his personal pet. So Nick feels right at home in the Volk Institute. But his school days are soon marred by a tragic error in judgement that ultimately unites him and his teacher in a common cause—the quest for a mechanical heart. Uncertain as to whether a prototype still exists, they embark on a determined search that leads them to an untidy mansion, a lonely widow, and the name Draicot. Never could Nick have anticipated the history he would uncover in their search and how the discovery would help him piece together certain elements of his own life.
Chock full of respect for family values, brimming with the-sky’s-the-limit creative energy, and ending with the satisfying triumph of the extraordinary, Nick Newton Is Not a Genius by S. E. M. Ishida is a launching pad to send the imagination of your young reader soaring!