In this series opener, Pearl, Millie, and Halinka have taken on the charge to come up with an invention that will save Miss Bunsen’s School for Brilliant Girls.
Housed in a rotting building and led by quirky Miss Bunsen, the school is on the brink of financial collapse. The school’s only hope is to win an interschool competition for the best invention, which comes with a large cash prize. The invention must be one that’s perfect for the “youth of today.” The girls design the Best of Yourself Hat, which, when worn, will “help you be the best version of yourself.” When their rivals from the glitzy Atom Academy steal the hat-invention idea, Pearl, Millie, and Halinka must prove whose idea it truly was to save their chances of winning. What’s oddly missing in the plot is that the girls on both sides never seem to consider that maybe another school might win, which dampens suspense somewhat and turns the story from one of invention to one of espionage. Diversity is conveyed primarily through visuals; the jacket image depicts Pearl, the leader of the team, with brown skin and curly hair, and Halinka and Millie present white, although in interior illustrations, Halinka appears to be a girl of color as well.
Although the plot loses focus, it is empowering to see schoolgirls master STEAM. (Fiction. 7-10)