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FROM THE HIGHLY SCIENTIFIC NOTEBOOKS OF PHINEAS L. MACGUIRE by Frances O’Roark Dowell Kirkus Star

FROM THE HIGHLY SCIENTIFIC NOTEBOOKS OF PHINEAS L. MACGUIRE

The First Experiment

By Frances O’Roark Dowell (Author) , Preston McDaniels (Illustrator)

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: June 1st, 2006
ISBN: 1-4169-0195-7
Publisher: Atheneum

Budding scientist and fourth-grader Mac has just lost his best friend to a move. Now at lunch he sits at “the table for people who don’t have anyone else to sit with.” He does, however, have an “un-best friend,” Mac R., newly arrived from Seattle and pugnaciously determined to hate everything at Woodbrook Elementary. In the way of young middle-grade novels, Mac and Mac R. are thrown together for the big science-fair project, which itself proves a Petri dish for the cultivation of their unlikely friendship. Mac is a thoroughly likable kid, whose easy sense of self makes it that much harder to understand the spiky Mac R., but which also helps him to help his partner win over their classmates. Dowell adapts to this shorter and simpler mode of storytelling easily, painting her characters with deft strokes and providing them with enough emotional complexity to make them comfortably three-dimensional. Mac’s chatty narrative includes several references to science projects, which are described and explained in an appendix. All in all, a smart, funny read—the first in a promising series. (Fiction. 8-12)