Best buds Izzy Newton, Allie Einstein, Gina Carver, Marie Curie, and Charlie Darwin are all about solving mysteries and revealing truths by investigating, experimenting, and finding proof.
School has barely started and Izzy is already nervous about her public speaking class and ice hockey tryouts, when a pop-up science fair is announced. Just as the squad begins to power up their science and tech smarts to dominate the competition, a mysterious illness wallops Atom Middle School, threatening to shut the whole place down. Izzy is feeling dizzy.
Can she and her friends pull together to solve the mystery and crush the science fair? Can Izzy work up the courage to conquer public speaking? Or will Izzy Newton’s flaws be the end of everything?
When the S.M.A.R.T Squad finds mold in the library they are determined to figure out why the mold has invaded their middle school. Each member of the Squad uses their unique talents to solve the mystery, exploring the science behind the mystery. For example, Allie writes notes using the scientific method. The notes are written on lined notebook paper and use a different font which makes them easy to distinguish. Another character draws a graphic organizer that explains how water and mold were able to invade the middle school. While the S.M.A.R.T Squad works together, they are not perfect, and sometimes the members clash.
Newton’s Flaw mixes middle school anxiety with science to make an entertaining story that focuses on a group of smart girls. The story uses relatable conflicts—making a team, public speaking, and friendship drama—that will help readers connect with the characters. The story has the perfect mix of science and middle school worries that will engage a wide variety of readers. Plus, the S.M.A.R.T Squad’s enthusiasm for science allows the girls to make learning about mold entertaining.
When the girls go looking for mold, they use proper safety measures. However, at one point, the group decides to sneak into the school’s basement. Allie encourages the others to break the rules by saying, “sometimes rules have to be broken.” Even though the book contains a lot of scientific terminology, the concepts are explained well. For example, when someone says Izzy is a “gravitation wave,” Izzy thinks “a gravitational wave was so fast that it made ripples in space-time, like a boat causes ripples in a pond.”
One subplot revolves around Izzy’s desire to be the first girl on the hockey team. However, she is ineligible to play because she has an F in one class because she is too afraid to give an oral presentation. While her teacher, Ms. Martinez, is kind about Izzy’s stage fright, Ms. Martinez refuses to let Izzy off the hook. Ms. Martinez gives Izzy clear expectations, advice, and encouragement. At one point, Ms. Martinez tells Izzy about her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson, who said “luck is work, not chance.” Eventually, Izzy finds a unique way to give her oral presentation and improve her grade.
Overall, Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T Squad is a fun and educational book that will appeal to a wide range of readers. The book’s format is visually appealing with black and white illustrations that break up the text and help readers visualize the story’s action. Readers will appreciate the diverse characters who all have different talents but come together because of their love of science. The easy-to-read book ends with ten pages explaining scientific concepts and introducing female scientists. Readers who enjoy science related books should also check out the Kate the Chemist Series by Dr. Kate Biberdorf.
Drugs and Alcohol