The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook
written by Eleanor Davis
Julian can’t make any friends because no one appreciates an eleven-year-old science genius. It doesn’t help that he looks like a stereotypical nerd with his glasses, small stature and orthopedic shoes. He’s tormented by bullies at school and no one cares how smart he is. His scientific experiments are ignored and derided. To add insult to injury, even his parents don’t get him. So when his family moves into a new town and he starts at a new school, he’s determined to make some friends, no matter what the cost. He decides to act stupid.
Will acting stupid really get him friends? The ploy doesn’t work, anyway. He can’t stop himself from spouting his knowledge, and then he cowers in fear of what the other kids will do to him.
Much to his surprise, he makes friends. A girl he thought was a punk (Greta) and a boy he thought was a dumb jock (Ben) turn out to also be science geniuses. They form their own group: The Secret Science Alliance. Together they make inventions and jot down their ideas in a notebook. But what happens when the notebook goes missing and someone else steals credit for their work? And what if a person they once respected is the guilty party?
The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook is a very fun and cute children’s graphic novel. In fact, it can be enjoyed by people of all different ages, including adults. Julian’s struggle to make friends, while shown in a funny way, is really sympathetic and understanding. Anyone who’s had trouble forging friendships or shamed for their smarts can understand what he’s going through. It’s also great that smarts win in the end of this book, and Julian realizes it’s okay to be a brainiac.
All of the pages are in color, and Davis has some neat techniques in her art, like naming all the parts of Julian’s brain (segments include “Da Vinci Vs. Edison: Who Will Win?” and “Periodic Table of Elements”). She also will let character’s words cut off into other pictures if she wants to show that the words aren’t important or no one’s even listening to what’s being said. There are a lot of simple and lighthearted touches like these that bring the graphic novel to life and make it such a delight to read.
The Secret Science Alliance’s main strong points are its amusing characters, quirky storytelling and unique styles of drawing. This could be an ideal book for a library, including a library at an elementary school or junior high. It also does a good job at showing the strength of learning and intelligence, showing kids it’s okay to be “nerds.”