Gutman, Dan. The Genius Files: Never Say Genius. Harper Collins Publishers, 2012, 277 pgs. Ages 9-13. ISBN 9780061827679 $16.99 P8 Q8
Thirteen year-old twins Coke and Pepsi McDonald take a road trip cross country with their parents and endure hair raising adventures all along the way. A crazy cast of villians seem intent on murdering the twins while their parents blithely visit and document little known tourist traps, as well as famous sites in this part two of the trip. The reader is provided maps and directions on following along on Google maps. The author enlisted Facebook friends to send photos of places such as Wrigley Field, Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, the Hoover Historical Center (a vacuum cleaner museum), and the very first McDonald’s, located in Illinois. Gutman’s “Genius Tales” are reminiscent of Lemony Snicket’s books, with lots of asides to the reader and wonderful descriptions of the characters and dialogue. The adventures are wild, fanciful inventions that will keep pre-teen readers glued to their books. It is a great trick of the author teaching the reader some geography as well as some history and popular American culture along the way. This series is a must have for all libraries and wouldn’t make a bad gift for either a boy or girl. May 2014 review by L.R.