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.


Anonymous said...


deem csweeney said...

I agree with the review. It is leaving out a violent scene where the nanny gets shot at and the father gets held at gunpoint during the kidnapping of the twins and the stealing of the father's inventions. The father is not any father either, he is raising these twins on his own after their mother died. He got depressed but his mood changed after he finally relented and let the twins have a dog. The children are fraternal twins while the Twins that kidnap them are identical twins. The children are much smarter it seems than the adult twins. This showing what a loving father they have who taught them so well as well as the logically good reason He flunked one of the D.D. Dean's who was his student years ago. This student wanting credit for work he had not done by a professor who flunked him in college. Another thing is that this identical twin who kidnap's the twins has no problem shooting at the nanny at gunpoint or the dog or holding a gun to the father's head has the worse characteristics in a person. There is just nothing nice or normal about this guy. The book is so fun I don't see the reason to add such drama and fear by adding a gun toting lunatic and kidnapping. Children are already afraid and faced with fearful news that happens in the real world. I just don't see why it needs to be added to a fun reading story. I don't recall one book when I was growing up that had a gun in it or a kidnapping in it or anything like that. 3rd to fifth grade is a precious and delicate time in children's lives. Why add to their reading such ideas that hopefully they never will have to encounter in their real lives? The book would still have been interesting to read and fun for kids and teachers without the violence.
Since this was a required reading for my son in elementary school I felt the teachers should have a choice of something that has no violence in it etc. Because of the violence and the amount of words that a child would have to look the meanings up of, it is more likely to be appealing to 6th and 7th graders, but that is my opinion. It is a long book with 232 pages and a ridiculous start as if the writer had writers block and didn't mind putting that into the book. But it does get good in the middle of the book so to each their own. I am sure I won't change the writer's mind to write a book without such violence but I can at least warn others that it is in the book. When I came across that part I was actually shocked.


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