Summer science camp proves both educational and exciting for a rising fifth grader with a deployed dad.
Plot rides the back seat, if not the boot, as this STEM-agenda–steered tale opens with a guest introduction, closes with a career guide, and in between sends young Emma to her inventor grandpa’s Dayton, Ohio, camp (think Wright Brothers…and sister too). There, she and readers are treated to lectures about the electromagnetic spectrum and cybersecurity, demonstrations of Newtonian laws of motion using toy weapons, and a career profile of Grace Hopper presented by her VR avatar. This all occurs before, two-thirds of the way through, the authors get to the abduction of Emma’s drone-pilot father by a Somali militia. Learning that her grandpa is secretly experimenting with converting matter into electronic data, Emma (with lots of help from the avatar) has herself transmitted to her dad’s laptop, evades its anti-malware program, and finds a clue to his location that she forwards to a local SEAL team. The adventure is properly adventuresome…but it hardly seems more than a pretext for the boosterish STEAM (as the authors position it, though the “Arts” get barely a nod here) content. Aside from one classroom scene, Gantt’s small chapter-head drawings depict an all-white cast.
Too much freight, even with a full head of STEAM. (Science fantasy. 9-11)