Charlie “Numbers” Lewis and his Whiz Kids explore aviation history (and dabble in corporate espionage).
Sixth-grader Charlie, a white boy, and his four somewhat diverse friends are very smart in their fields of expertise. They had quite the adventure at Incredo Land (Bringing down the Mouse, 2014); now they’ve been asked by Anastasia Federov, a former student of Charlie’s MIT–professor dad’s, to enter a paper-airplane competition. They are to befriend Richard Caldwell, the reigning champ and son of former astronaut (and corporate sponsor of the contest) Buzz Caldwell, and to find out if said former astronaut stole moon rocks from the U.S. government. Of course, nothing turns out the way they expect. Richard’s a smart, gracious kid. Anastasia might have faked credentials to get the Whiz Kids into the contest…and faked a lot more than that. Can they figure out what’s going on and not come out looking like the bad guys? The Mezrichs follow Charlie’s debut with an entertaining-enough thriller dotted with history and science lessons. Though readers will likely give a pass to improbabilities in the story (underground, secret labs and daring escapes riding museum-piece aircraft), improbabilities in the lives of the characters (their parents let their 12-year-olds travel from Boston to D.C. unaccompanied, and another kid sets off fire alarms for fun in a crowded hotel ballroom without repercussions) will leave them scratching their heads and closing the book.
More facile than fun. (Adventure. 8-11)