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Science Fair: A Story of Mystery, Danger, International Suspense and a Very Nervous Frog


Science Fair: A Story of Mystery, Danger, International Suspense and a Very Nervous Frog

At Hubble Middle School (somewhere near Washington, D.C.), students wait with much anticipation for the annual science fair. Founded by billionaire inventor and Hubble alumnus Lance Swingle, the Hubble Science Fair is seen as a chance for students to use their scientific knowledge, have fun, and hopefully win the grand prize.

Unfortunately, as many students, teachers and parents know, the Fair is far from a friendly competition, and the only winners are the ME (Manor Estates) kids --- known more for being spoiled rotten than for being science geniuses. This year, the prize is bigger than ever: $5,000. For the ME kids, it’s pocket change; but for students like Toby Harbinger, that kind of money could mean a world of difference --- especially when they have a crazed Star Wars fan after them.

In a rebellious moment, Toby decided he absolutely needed a new gaming computer, and the only way he knew how to get the funds for it was by selling some of his parents’ Star Wars “junk” online. Forget that the BlasTech DL-44 may have been signed by Han Solo himself --- a rumor Toby doesn’t really believe --- or that his parents might find out. But when an angry fan named D. Arthur Vaderian and his burly associate, the Wookiee, demand their money back, Toby realizes he must win the school science fair to set things right.

However, being a favorite target of the ME kids doesn’t help Toby’s plan, and in a rash moment of retaliation (involving a disgusting tofu enchilada and a rather embarrassed ME kid), Toby ends up in detention. That’s when he figures out the truth behind the ME kids’ science fair reign. Unfortunately, getting the proof that they’re cheating, much less being believed, isn’t going to be easy.

When Toby and his best friends, Tamara Reilley and Micah Porter, go to the Science Nook, they are given advice by the weird owner and science genius Sternabite. As Tamara and Micah figure out their project ideas, Toby tries to determine what the ME kids are up to. After battling a robotic owl with eggplant, Toby retrieves evidence of the conspiracy. However, when he tells the Hornet (Principal Plott-Garnett) and Mr. Neckstrom, Toby gets suspended!

In the midst of his academic crusade, Toby ends up in more trouble than he ever would have imagined and discovers that there’s a much bigger plan at play. Will Toby be able to summon the Force, or will darkness reign?

Meanwhile, Grdankl the Strong, the president of Krpshtskan (“a poor mountainous nation with few vowels and a population of four million including goats”), looks forward to defeating the United States of America. With his associates Drmst (his fourth Vice President) and Vrsk (a computer administrator) waiting to meet Prmkt (a secret agent), nothing can stop his grand plan from happening. Except maybe the lure of the home shopping channel.

More than just a thrilling mystery-adventure, SCIENCE FAIR is a funny, over-the-top satire featuring social and global commentary, along with several pop culture references (both well and lesser known --- such as a rollerblading doll and a pizza franchise that were popular for all the wrong reasons in the 1990s), that young people will find humorous, groan-worthy, and even a little insightful. After finishing the book, readers won’t think of anything the same way again.

Reviewed by Sarah Sawtelle on February 8, 2011

Science Fair: A Story of Mystery, Danger, International Suspense and a Very Nervous Frog
by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

  • Publication Date: February 8, 2011
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
  • ISBN-10: 1423131401
  • ISBN-13: 9781423131403