Monday, April 29, 2013

The Templeton Twins have an Idea: Book One - Ellis Weiner

Summary: Suppose there were 12-year-old twins, a boy and girl named John and Abigail Templeton. Let's say John was pragmatic and played the drums, and Abigail was theoretical and solved cryptic crosswords. Now suppose their father was a brilliant, if sometimes confused, inventor. And suppose that another set of twins—adults—named Dean D. Dean and Dan D. Dean, kidnapped the Templeton twins and their ridiculous dog in order to get their father to turn over one of his genius (sort of) inventions. Yes, I said kidnapped. Wouldn't it be fun to read about that? Oh please. It would so. Luckily for you, this is just the first in a series perfect for boys and girls who are smart, clever, and funny (just like the twins), and enjoy reading adventurous stories (who doesn't?!).
(Summary and cover art from

My Review: Shortly after the death of their mother, twelve-year-old twins, Abigail and John, find themselves relocating as their inventor father, Professor Elton Templeton, accepts employment at the Tickeridge-Baltock Institute of Technology. Upon arriving on the Tick-Tock Tech campus the twins discover posters of their father gratified with “Thief!!!”. The culprit is easily deciphered as Dean D. Dean confronts Professor Templeton during a lecture to accuse him of stealing his idea for a personal one-man helicopter (the POMH). Professor Templeton refuses to share credit with Dean, causing the desperate man to enlist the help of his own twin, Dan D. Dean, to kidnap the Templeton twins and their high-strung dog. Abigail and John are forced to rely upon fantastical use of their hobbies as well as their “ridiculous” dog to get out of this precarious situation.

A cross between mystery and science fiction this purposeful, progressive plot is engaging and fast-paced. The conflict between the Dean twins and the Templeton twins is allowed to quickly escalate, while obvious foreshadowing allows the reader to puzzle out the resolution. The witty narrator, who never officially defines himself or his relationship to the twins, appears frequently to break up the storyline.  The narrator engages on a personal level with the reader through hyperbole plays with idioms, metaphors, and clichés as well as sarcastic review questions concluding each chapter. Also included is a whimsical meatloaf recipe and instructions on cryptic crossword puzzles.

Full-page detailed illustrations  in mysterious shades of blue and black adorn this book. They are done in a comical format that meshes well with the humorous plotline. Gears and gadgets are used as decoration on the majority of the pages. Additional charts, maps, and diagrams are interspersed throughout and play an integral role within the story. Variations in fonts and page layouts add yet an additional layer of playfulness.

The ending is delightfully predictable and allows the tale to come to a full resolution. Yet the book is so much fun that readers will yearn to know what happens next in the interesting lives of the Templeton twins. This cleaver, engaging tale is perfect for the reluctant reader. Abigail's smart and witty character will charm girls while the use of inventive gadgets and sarcastic humor will especially appeal to boys. With sequential titles in the makings, this one has great appeal for third through fifth grade students.

 My Rating: 4 Stars

 To sum it up: Full of spunk and wit this title will entice even the most reluctant reader.

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