Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Accelerati Triology Book 1: Tesla's Attic by Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman

Title: Tesla's Attic
Series: The Accelerati Trilogy
Authors: Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman
Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery
Reading Level: Ages 9 to 14
Curriculum Subject: Science, History

Tesla's Attic is the first book in a new trilogy published by Disney-Hyperion Book.  In this book, a garage sale and some old stuff that turn out to be some of Nikola Tesla's inventions bring together an interesting cast of characters.  The plot includes mystery as to what the inventions are as well as why a secret society wants them so badly that everyone ends up in danger.

The main character is Nick, who is the one who has the garage sale after his moves into the house in Colorado Springs with his father and younger brother to start a new adventure and life following the lose of their house and his mother in a fire in Florida.  Other characters include an outgoing boy named Mitch, a cheerleader and artist named Caitlin, and a goth named Vincent.

While it is fiction, it does discuss real inventors (mainly Tesla and Edison) and some of their real contributions including an interesting part on accidental discoveries.  With the inventions and scientific history, this book could be fun to tie in with units on discovery and science fair projects. Beyond just the scientific history, there is also some general history mixed in such as the scorched earth war strategy.

One thing to note is that this book does have some death/killing beyond just Nick's loss of his mother that while not violent could be considered somewhat disturbing.  However, it is known it is coming due to the future telling capability of one of Tesla's inventions.  How it unravels with there being many possibilities of how one of many could end up being the one is also quite an interesting portrayal of how little things can lead to near death experiences. Ultimately, the actual death ends up being a well-written and perhaps the most shocking twist.

Overall Tesla's Attic is a great fast paced novel for middle school students, especially if they have an interest in invention and science.  The one thing that may be disappointing is the ending.  It is nice that it seems to wrap everything up really well, but at the same time perhaps it wraps it up too well as it does not leave too much wondering to leave you yearning for the next book.

Types of Readers Book Might Appeal To & Multiple Intelligence Categories
  • Those interested in science, especially energy, technology, and inventing things. (Logical-Mathematical)
  • Those that like mysteries.
Activities for Further Learning and Fun
  • Tesla Lesson Plans - PBS has three lesson plans related to Tesla on this site.  Two are for grades 6 to 8 and one is for grades 9 to 12.
  • Tesla Man Out of Time Lesson Plan Book - This eBook has 30 daily lessons as well as assessments to use including multiple choice questions and essays.

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