A mysterious wave of attacks forces the 11-year-old creator of the titular device to, literally, think outside the box.
Though bright enough to leave his miniature talking monkey, Phil, at home, Tim decides to let the Imagination Box do his schoolwork—only to have mild guilt transformed to shock when the invention is stolen by a seemingly hypnotized crossing guard. When he turns for help to the Technology, Research, and Defense Agency, a secret techno-spy agency, boy, monkey, and sidekick Dee are swept into a whirl of deception and betrayal orchestrated by the murderous owner of another device that can control people’s minds through their cellphones. Shoveling in further plot-accelerating gadgetry ranging from a disintegrating ray to golf ball–like teleporters, Ford propels his all-white (or simian) cast to a magnificent climax featuring fire-breathing bear-sharks (the result of too much imagining with too little forethought) and a villain who obligingly explains his machinations at length into a microphone. Except for Phil, who suffers an outsized existential crisis, the characters don’t jump off the page the way they did in the 2016 opener. Still, events trot along smartly, and Tim undergoes a personal transformation that not only saves this day, but to judge from a closing twist, others to come.
Further misadventures with cool tech—and, for extra bite, bear-sharks. (Science fantasy. 11-13)