Mad Scientist Academy: The Ocean Disaster

Crown. Jul. 2019. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524767198.
Gr 1-3–The monsters of the Mad Scientist Academy are out on an adventure again, this time on the ocean. Dr. Cosmic is ready to show his students his latest invention, a squid-like submarine. With the assistance of an oceanographer, Professor Fathom, the monster students embark on a quest that will be educational and fun. With a focus on green energy and curiosity about ocean life, readers will learn about seaweed as a source of alternative fuel, as well as echolocation and the role of producers and consumers in the food web of the ocean ecosystem. Well-known children’s author and illustrator McElligott’s fourth installment follows the graphic novel design of it predecessors. The first-person narrative, set in cylindrical bubbles, flows naturally with the plot structure and stops occasionally to define terms. Each one of the characters is non-threatening and good natured, regardless of their unique monster feature. Although this picture book appears more suitable for second and third graders, it could find appeal with older readers and makes a great choice for a classroom unit on oceans. The muted illustrations rely on green variations and layers of blue to set off the art, which provides a sense of cohesion and offers details that are not present in the narrative. The back matter contains brief information on ocean animals.
VERDICT An amusing, informational graphic novel–esque picture book that is easy to follow and will charm readers while teaching them about the ocean. Ideal for public and elementary school libraries.–

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