Gadgets and Gears: The Mesmer Menace
by Kersten Hamilton
Clarion Books (Houghton-Mifflin)
Premise: The year is 1902, and young Wally Kennewickett topples into the first Gadgets and Gears adventure courtesy of Theodore Roosevelt. The president shows up on the front step of Kennewickett’s Amazing Automated Inn to ask Wally’s parents, who are brilliant scientists, to combat an organization of evil magicians. The Mesmers’ bid for world domination is met by steampunk innovation, for the Amazing Automated Inn is a place of science, creativity, and entrepreneurial gusto. The resounding theme throughout the book: “You can do it!”
Personal Opinion: One of the reasons this book is so incredibly fun is Hamilton’s choice in point of view. Our narrator is Noodles, Wally’s indomitable dachshund. “Danger. I should have smelled it. Mayhem, most feathered and fowl, was coming.” Oliver and Calypso (Dad and Mom) are an intrepid team. The cast also includes two uppity Kennewickett cousins, Melvin and Prissy, twins with a passion for pigeons. We’re warned, “Kennewicketts tend to turn out generally good or abominably evil.” In this case, young Wally definitely exceeds expectations. He’s abominably good.
Perks: Illustrations by James Hamilton are outstanding!
Rating: This book won my heart with its quirky, colorful vocabulary. An amusing cast. An oft outlandish turn of events. And a dog-and-boy duo that cheerfully waltzed into my affections. I’m giving The Mesmer Menace ten of ten stars, and I’ll be looking forward to future installments in the series. “To the lab, Noodles!” (10 ★)
for more, visit Kersten Hamilton’s website