Be Careful What You Clone! Mad Scientist Academy: The Dinosaur Disaster by Matthew McElligott
ON A COOL SEPTEMBER MORNING, A GROUP OF STUDENTS ARRIVED FOR THE FIRST DAY OF THEIR NEW SCHOOL...
But are the students who straggle into this rather intimidating educational institution the usual fresh-faced, starched-and-combed kids? Not exactly. Matriculating at the Mad Scientist Academy, there's young Wolfgang Wolfman, little Scarlett Vampira, Frank N. Stein, Jr., Tad the Toadboy, Al, a green extraterrestrial--you know, the usual suspects.
And they are welcomed by their professor, appropriately dressed in white lab coat and--thoroughly tied up with plenty of rope.
"I AM DR. COSMIC. I WILL BE YOUR TEACHER THIS YEAR," HE EXPLAINS.
"WHY ARE YOU ALL TIED UP?" VENTURES SCARLETT.
And well may she inquire, because Dr. Cosmic explains that he was overpowered by the school pet Oscar, who just happens to be -- a dinosaur. And then the students are introduced to their paleontology instructor, a holographic skeletal authority appropriately named Dr. Tibia, who leads them into what the kids think is an exhibit of dino displays.
But the students soon discover that the exhibits are not clever models. They are robots, and it seems Dr. Cosmos' robot remote control has a few prehistoric bugs in the system. The system is on the fritz for sure, and the chase is on, with the students left to sort out the survivors on their own, in Matthew McElligott's unusual first day of school romp, Mad Scientist Academy: The Dinosaur Disaster (Crown Books, 2015). Cleverly disguised as a comic adventure, in this opening title, McElligott's premise is definitely educational, with a fine lesson on types of dinosaurs and how they rose and fell in their time. McElligott appends a dinosaur dictionary with thumbnail illustrations and facts about dinosaurs, including a perhaps surprising group, called "Dinosaurs That Survived!" (hint: they taste like chicken!) and adds a web link to more fun with dinosaur lore.
Kirkus Reviews reminds us of that earlier critical and popular success in science nonfiction for kids and comically quips, "Aside from being, you know, mad, Dr. Cosmic is plainly a colleague of Ms. Frizzle, and the mix of pithy banter, tumultuous field-trip mishaps, and science fact is as familiar as it is winning. Fans of the Frizz will be dino-delighted." If this series turns out to be half as informative and fun as The Magic School Bus series, the sound you will be hearing is much cheering from primary school science teachers (most of whom are NOT mad, at least not this early in the school year)--and their students.
And don't think that Ms. Frizzle has parked the Magic Bus in the junkyard and gone to some tropical retirement home. Joanna Cole's and Bruce Degen's latest fun field trip is The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge.