Meet Leonora Bolt - a brand new character in children’s fiction who is part Ada Twist, part Izzy Gizmo and is the latest in the line of fabulous and cool young female inventors that readers will love getting to know and adventuring with.
On remote Crabby Island, nine-year-old Leonora Bolt comes up with all sorts of incredible inventions. Her latest is gizmo is the ‘Switcheroo’, a device that can make objects swap places thanks to a clever bit of quantum physics and it could be the key to getting her to the mainland, something her Uncle Luther is very keen not to happen. This had never bothered Leonora until a young boy washes up on the island via an inflatable lobster. Not only does Jack claim to have seen Leonora’s inventions before but that Uncle Luther is some kind of mainland celebrity. Surely this is impossible unless Uncle Luther is up to no good and is stealing Leonora’s work.
Accompanied by new friend Jack, Twitchy the otter, chef of all things disgusting Millie and happy-go-lucky singing ferry driver Captain Spang, Leonora heads off to the mainland to stop her villainous uncle and to discover the truth about her past…
I loved this wonderfully silly STEM-filled adventure with its incredible inventions, assortment of rather funky fishy food and fabulous characters, well except Uncle Luther, he is a right old rotter. Full of fun, friendship, fantastic feats of engineering and a fair few surprises, Leonora’s wild and wacky adventures and equally wild and wacky imagination ensure a madcap read that bounces along as quickly as she thinks up her latest idea. The brilliantly written story with lots of awesome illustrations by Gladys Jose make this another great addition to the illustrated chapter book selection for lower middle-grade readers.
STEM, and rightly so, is very much a focus subject at the moment in primary schools and science and engineering is everywhere in this book, from inventions to particle physics to supercomputers to quantum mechanics. It is so refreshing to have a STEM-loving girl shine - more of these in children’s fiction please. Leonora is bright, brave and is not only a great role model but the kind of child that readers will want to be friends with. She loves tinkering, taking things apart and her brain whirrs with ingenious ideas from magnetic cheese to musical socks to a bee sting reverser to flameproof shampoo (which is actually quite useful if you’re prone to setting fire to your hair).
The great news is that Leonora’s adventures do not end here. Whilst the ending wraps up many aspects of this particular adventure it leaves plenty of questions unanswered and Leonora will return in book two with hopes of finding her parents and discovering what actually happened to Uncle Luther - is he still residing in possibly the stinkiest cave in children’s fiction or is the evil genius lurking elsewhere?
With huge thanks to Penguin Random House for the copy I received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 7+.