From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—When Grdankl the Strong, president of the small, but extremely unhappy country of Krpshtskan, declares war on the United States, no one is safe. Its agents are en route to Hubble Middle School where an operative has been working for several years to create award-winning science-fair projects for underachieving children and their overinvolved parents. This is the year that the top projects will be designed to work in concert to bring down the United States in one enormous, electromagnetic pulse strike. All that is standing in the way of this diabolical plan are three students, a science store operator, a handful of bumbling FBI agents, and a giant Weinermobile. Barry and Ridley have created a wild story of danger, espionage, stinky cheese, exploding vats of Coca-Cola, and one floating frog. This nonstop, action-packed novel will appeal to every kid who has ever had to do a science-fair project.—Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK
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If there was any doubt that today’s authors have acclimated themselves to writing in a post-9/11 world, Barry and Pearson’s latest comedy revolves around a group of terrorists intent on attacking America. Fortunately, most of them are just good-natured bumblers, but one of them has an actual plan: use rich middle-school kids (and their grade-obsessed parents) to unwittingly build a super-weapon for the science fair. Eighth-grader Toby is sick of the same kids winning every year, and when he learns about the plot, it’s up to him and his friends to stop the cheating—and, while they’re at it, save the world. The humor is a mix of chuckle-worthy wordplay and dead-on-arrival groaners; a subplot involving thieves attempting to steal Toby’s parents’ Star Wars memorabilia will generate the loudest laughs. Readers will appreciate the modern details (iPhones, Dance Dance Revolution, and Google all figure into the story), and the theme of overeager parenting will resonate—even through all the zany noise. Grades 5-8. --Daniel Kraus