In the ATOMIC WEIGHT OF SECRETS, five children, all
geniuses, all with scientifically brilliant parents, find
themselves taken away from their parents by men in black to
an isolated town where they are put in the care of four
different nannies. The first big question is why has this
happened. The second is what can they use their combined
brain power to do about it. Bowditch weaves a world of
mystery and cliffhangers with all the good food in a cozy
and all the atmosphere you'd expect in a gothic.
This book has a relatively complex vocabulary but
challenging words are explained by context or neatly within
the same sentence. A number of foreign words are included
without hampering the flow of the story, and tidbits of
history help anchor the Victorian setting (for instance,
one of the young people met McKinley a couple of years
before the story started, tying the narrative to a very
specific time period.)
The characters of the children are very well-developed.
There's Wallace, the sensitive young chemist who is
grieving for his mother, and Noah, who feels his super-star
mom is almost as distant as if she were dead. Fay, the
oldest, is spoiled and selfish, and is made to share a room
with Lucy, the youngest and most open. Their
circumstances open the door for character development on
all fronts. Jasper, Lucy's brother, rounds out the group.
Underneath all the adventure and danger, this book is about
how they come together despite their differences.
But underneath that, their story is one of dealing with
loss and change and would make an excellent read-together-
and-discuss for a child dealing with those kinds of
issues. However, extremely young or sensitive readers may
find the parents' willingness to hand the children over
without a word of explanation as to what is happening
unsettling. The fact that the men in black are dressed
outlandishly in everything from tutus to bonnets, making
them comic instead of truly frightening, helps to alleviate
Overall, this is a captivating read and well worth the
time. It is the first in a series that promises even more
In 1903, five truly brilliant young inventors, the children
of the world's most important scientists, went about their
lives and their work as they always had.
But all that changed the day the men in black
They arrived to take twelve-year-old Jasper
Modest and his six-year-old sister, Lucy-he with his
remarkable creations and she with her perfect memory-from
their London, England home to a place across the ocean
they'd never seen before.
They arrived to take nine-year-old Wallace
Banneker, last in a long line of Africa-descended
scientists, from his chemistry, his father, and his New York
home to a life he'd never imagined.
Twelve-year-old Noah Canto-Sagas, already
missing his world-famous and beloved mother, was taken from
Toronto, Canada, carrying only his clothes, his violin, and
his remarkable mind.
And thirteen-year-old Faye Vigyanveta, the
genius daughter of India's wealthiest and most accomplished
scientists, was removed by force from her life of luxury.
From all across the world, they've been taken to
mysterious Sole Manner Farm, and a beautiful but isolated
schoolhouse in Dayton, Ohio, without a word from their
parents as to why. Not even the wonderful schoolteacher they
find there, Miss Brett, can explain it. She can give them
love and care, but she can't give them answers.
Things only get stranger from there. What is the
book with no pages Jasper and Lucy find in their mother's
underwear drawer, and why do the men in black want it so badly?
How is it all the children have been taught the
same bizarre poem-and yet no other rhymes or stories their
And why haven't their parents tried to contact
Whatever the reasons, to brash, impetuous Faye,
the situation is clear: They and their parents have been
kidnapped by these terrible men in black, and the only way
they're going to escape and rescue their parents is by
completing the invention they didn't even know they were all
working on-an invention that will change the world forever.
But what if the men in black aren't trying to
harm the children? What if they're trying to protect them?
And if they're trying to protect them-from what?
An amazing story about the wonders of science
and the still greater wonders of friendship, The Atomic
Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Men in Black, the
first book of the Young Inventors Guild trilogy, is a truly
original novel. Young readers will forever treasure Eden
Unger Bowditch's funny, inventive, poignant, and wonderfully
fun fiction debut.