Booklist: Benjamin Franklinstein Lives!

Young science-whiz Victor has it all figured out. His erupting volcano has a 97percent chance of winning the science fair (the scale-model toga-wearing fleeing Pompeians alone are worth 13 percent). What he doesn’t figure is that in the week following him finishing and displaying it, a lightning bolt will reawaken a dormant Ben Franklin, who has been sleeping in an electrical muck–filled box hidden in a secret basement for the past couple centuries. Ben had himself put into suspended animation so that he could help humanity in the future, and that’s just what he does as long as you consider running amok after imbibing too much electricity (he functions as a walking/rampaging recharcheable battery) and destroying Victor’s volcano to be helpful.

It’s a light, funny read, and McElligott’s many diagrams, graphs, and drawings are a nice addition. Depending on kids’ tolerance for outlandish sciencey gobbledygook, this should be a welcome diversion to pass the hours between scoring science-fair ribbons and exploding their home chemistry sets. — Ian Chipman