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“I’ll have to remember that Occam’s razor thing. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be,” Izzy. –Absolute Hero
Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T. Squad #1
by Valerie Tripp
A crowded new school and a crazy class schedule are enough to make Izzy dizzy. It may be the first day of sixth grade, but as long as best friends Allie Einstein and Charlie Darwin are by her side, Izzy knows it’ll all be okay. But first–day jitters take an icy turn when Izzy’s old pal Marie Curie comes back to town and gives her former friends the cold shoulder. The problems pile up when the school’s air conditioning goes on the fritz. The temperature suddenly drops to what feels like the coldest possible, and the adults don’t seem to have a clue how to thaw out the school.
Cold temperatures and a frigid friendship? Izzy has had enough of feeling like an absolute zero. She rallies the girls to use their brainpower and science smarts to tackle the school’s chilly mystery—and hopefully fix a certain frozen friendship along the way. Will the girls succeed and become the absolute heroes of Atom Middle School?
As the girls try to discover why the air conditioner is malfunctioning, they use the scientific method, which appears as illustrations that look like binder paper. When the girls are checking out the air condition unit on the roof, the door closes and Izzy uses a hose to repel from the two-story building. When the girls tell Allie’s grandmother about their adventure, she says, “Well behaved women rarely make history. You girls go ahead and be subversive. Just be careful, too.”
The characters are a racially diverse group, who have different family dynamics. Charlie has two veterinarian moms, and she loves to eat healthy, homegrown food. Allie lives with her grandmother because her archaeologist mother works a lot. Izzy seeks out her grandfather who helps her solve problems. The S.M.A.R.T Squad is made of confident girls, who love science and are not afraid of being smart. The girls are likable because they are quirky and imperfect.
Another positive aspect of the story is that the girls are able to solve the mystery of the too-cool school, yet they keep their success a secret. Instead of being braggarts, the girls are confident enough that they don’t need to tell the whole world of their good deeds.
Valarie Tripp, the author of several American Girl stories, writes a fun story with science-loving characters. Even though the story shows smart girls using science, the science facts never feel like a lecture. Instead, the science seamlessly blends into the story’s events. The end of the book includes short biographies of the scientist that the characters are named after as well as two pages that explain some great women scientists.
With themes of friendship, science, and solving problems, Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T. Squad: Absolute Hero will appeal to a wide variety of readers. Black and white illustrations, which appear every 4 to 6 pages, show the girls’ unique personalities. Girls who want to read other stories with smart girls should check out the Girls Who Code Series by Stacia Deutsch and Ellie, Engineer by Jackson Pearce.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Charlie tells Izzy, “Your brothers are total eye candy.”