I admit, I'm a sucker for any story with a "magical book" element to it. Think Inkheart, Endymion Spring, even my own book in a sense. But the Book (and I capitalize that intentionally) in "Simon Bloom, The Gravity Keeper" works its magic scientifically in a way that would blow Isaac Newton's mind.
Ordinary sixth grader Simon Bloom has just made the biggest discovery since gravity -- and it literally fell into his lap. Or onto his head, anyway. You see, Simon has found the Teacher's Edition of Physics, a magical reference book containing the very formulas that control the laws that govern the universe! By reciting the formulas out loud, he's able to do the impossible, like reverse the force of gravity to float weightlessly, and reduce friction to zoom across any surface!
But a book that powerful isn't safe with Simon for long. Before he knows it, he is being pursued by evil forces bent on gaining control of the formulas. And they'll do anything to retrieve them. Now Simon and his friends must use their wits and the magic of science in a galactic battle for the book, and the future of the universe, in this funny, fast-paced science fiction adventure from first-time author Michael Reisman.
The author makes no bones about his love for Douglas Adams, author of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and his irreverent style of writing certainly invokes him, but in a much more approachable way. The concept of this book is simply great, and kids will learn a thing or two about the various sciences along the way -- always a good thing.
Simon and his sidekicks, Owen (aka, bully-fodder) and the reluctantly popular Alysha, have adventure after adventure trying to keep the Teacher's Edition out of the wrong hands. But my favorite character of all is the Narrator, whose first person "Chronicling" of Simon's story lends a wonderfully snarky element and gives the author a clever way to fill in the blanks without slowing down the story. He switches from third-person to the Narrator's first person seamlessly, not an easy task. I found myself wishing for more direct commentary from him.
Despite the scientific element, Reisman makes the manipulation of everything from gravity and friction to electricity and velocity easy to understand. Kids fourth grade and up will most definitely enjoy this one. And I believe Universal is making it into a movie -- no surprise there. It would make a fantastic film.
The ending was satisfying and leaves the door wide open for the next installment -- a book I'm am very much looking forward to. I give this one 4.5 bookmarks -- but if Michael Reisman came to town for a signing, I'd most definitely head out for a signature.