Sharing the joy of children’s books

Jack and the Geniuses at the Bottom of the World

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This is the first instalment in what is sure to be an exciting and original new series by Bill Nye. Nye is a scientist and educator who is probably best known for his children’s show Bill Nye the Science Guy. He is now extending his talent for making science fun and accessible, by creating a fiction series for children in collaboration with his friend, novelist and science specialist, Gregory Mone.

Jack and the Geniuses at the Bottom of the WorldNye’s first book introduces us to foster siblings Jack, Matt, and Ava. Ava and Matt, aka ‘The Geniuses’, are exceptionally talented inventors and robot engineers, combining their love of maths, science, and astronomy to produce great inventions. Jack on the other hand is not such a whiz at, well, anything related to science, maths, or astronomy, and struggles with living in the shadow of the geniuses. What Jack does excel at however is bravery and curiosity, both of which he has in abundance! This combination of brains and heart makes this trio an unbeatable team.

In this book, Jack, Ava, and Matt befriend the great inventor Hank Witherspoon, an encounter which leads them not only to the heart of the inventor’s lab, but also to Antarctica! It is a series of firsts, as the gang embark on this epic adventure, and simultaneously stumble upon a mystery which is begging to be solved. Not to mention countless inventions and experiments … self-drying underwear anyone?

Nye has created a story which makes the world of science exciting, fun, and accessible. He has done this quite elegantly in his first book. This is not a text book masquerading as a fiction book for children; his educational nuggets are intertwined with the plot and dialogue so naturally and subtly that neither the science not the plot are diluted.

Children will be learning and simultaneously enjoying getting to know Jack, Matt, and Ava. These characters are developed so well that they carry Nye’s attempts to teach science successfully. We truly feel Matt’s love for research and experimentation, and Ava’s love for robotics, as we do Hank’s, slightly eccentric, love for inventions. The added component of a mystery to solve turns this science team into a team of detectives, and Nye has injected enough twists and clever surprises that Jack, Matt, and Ava may very well be a new generation of child detectives which readers will love.

One of the primary settings in this book is Antarctica, and it is full of information about its climate, inhabitants, and the experience of living and working in this part of the world. Nye provides information to the reader about the environment as his characters discuss clean water, the oceans, and pollution. Jack, feeling a little at sea heading to Antarctica with a group of geniuses, reads up in advance on as many books as he can find about their imminent new location.

By reading and informing himself he can feel more prepared for their adventure, and this shows he has a sense of responsibility as well as heart and courage – very important when travelling to a potentially dangerous place.

“If the whole thing were a pizza, and you cut the pie into a hundred slices, all but two would be frozen.”

Nye’s book is a wealth of information about this wonderful part of the world, and is an accessible introduction to children to learn about it. He likens it, for example, to a pizza, which if you slice into a hundred slices, all but two would be frozen. This is one of many examples of this accessibility. He concludes the book with two short chapters entitled ‘This is Reality People!’ and ‘Ten Absolutely Essential Questions about Antarctica,’ both of which are highly educational, explaining in more detail the science within the book, and bringing awareness to readers about global warming, and the curiosities of Antarctica including its weather, its light, and its inhabitants.

“The way I see it, if vampires really do exist, those dark Antarctic winters would be ideal for their vacation.”

Overall, an exceptionally fun, accessible, and educational book for children which will encourage young scientists, explorers, researchers, inventors, adventurers, detectives, and simply those who want to read a funny and compelling story. Praise for Bill Nye, and I can’t wait for the next instalment.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

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About the author

Emma Coonan

Emma Coonan loves good stories which captivate and transport the reader, whether that’s through a wardrobe, on holidays in Cornwall with five friends, or following the adventures of a small mackintosh sporting bear. When not reading she can be found out on her own adventures, hiking, walking, or searching for her next great read amongst the bookshops and stalls of Dublin.

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