________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 7 . . . . November 29, 2002


The Not-Quite World Famous Scientist. (A First Flight Chapter Book).

Susan Hughes. Illustrated by Stephen Taylor.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2002.
93 pp., pbk., $6.95.
ISBN 1-55041-696-0.

Subject Headings:
Science Fair-Fiction.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Gillian Noonan.

*** /4


Now Alex had the open door in her sights. She could see Teagan talking to Frances and some other friends in the hallway. Teagan was probably waiting for her, like she usually did. They had been neighbors since they were little kids. They had been walking home from school together for years.

Alex took another step away from Keith. She wanted just to say goodbye and leave.

But she couldn’t walk away. Something was holding her back, and she knew what it was. It was the scientist in her. The scientist in Alex liked things to make sense. And this didn’t. Why would Keith have mentioned his aunt if he knew she couldn’t help them?

Friendships happen for many reasons even when you least expect them. For Alexandra Bointon, the not-quite world famous scientist in Susan Hughes’ novel, The Not-Quite World Famous Scientist, this is exactly what happens. Science has been and continues to be the most important interest in Alex’s young life. With an upcoming science project in school, her daydreams of fame increase, and she plans what she and her longtime friend Teagan will do. However, this project is to be like no other. While Alex is caught in one of her daydreams, Teagan agrees to be partners for the science project with another girl who shares her interests of clothes and skating which leaves Alex to be partnered with Keith, the new boy who has some strange habits. Alex doesn’t want to be his partner until he tells her his aunt is a famous scientist who could help them. This piques her interest even though she remains unsure about whether Keith really has a famous aunt and about why he is always hiding things. Alex, however, puts him off until it is almost too late, nearly not discovering how much they have in common. The two, along with the famous aunt, are destined to be friends.

     This novel contains an important lesson for young readers for they often fail to make friends because they let an individual’s appearance or nervousness prohibit them from discovering the person inside. Alex only wants to be Keith’s partner because of his famous scientist aunt, and she wants some answers to Keith’s odd behavior. She is very self-centered, a characteristic which Hughes portrays quite clearly. As the new kid in school, Keith’s character is somewhat less believable because we only see the action of the story through Alex’s eyes. The role models provided by the characters are refreshing; not only are Alex and Keith’s aunt the ones interested in science, but also Keith is artistic and enjoys visiting museums and art galleries. For children just beginning to read chapter books, this is a realistic story with a twist.


Gillian Martin Noonan is a teacher living in Old Perlican, Newfoundland.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.