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The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow

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Overview

Vincent Shadow isn't particularly good at sports and is constantly being picked on by his classmates at Central Middle School. But it is Vincent's unusually creative mind that truly separates him from other kids his age.

Vincent's top secret attic lab is crammed with toy prototypes —from Liquid Superballs to Bullz-I Basketballs and Sonic Snorkelz—and he has a sketch book filled with drawings of toys he still wants to build. So when a chance encounter with an eccentric toy ...

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The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow

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Overview

Vincent Shadow isn't particularly good at sports and is constantly being picked on by his classmates at Central Middle School. But it is Vincent's unusually creative mind that truly separates him from other kids his age.

Vincent's top secret attic lab is crammed with toy prototypes —from Liquid Superballs to Bullz-I Basketballs and Sonic Snorkelz—and he has a sketch book filled with drawings of toys he still wants to build. So when a chance encounter with an eccentric toy inventor offers him the opportunity to go from unknown weird kid to toy inventor extraordinaire, Vincent realizes that playtime is over: it's time to get serious about toys.

* Now retitled as Vincent Shadow: Toy Inventor in paperback!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kehoe's debut is a quick-reading, whimsical tale of a boy inventor, but reliance on the trope of the evil stepfamily undercuts much of the fun. Vincent used to have frequent blinding flashes of inspiration and invented all sorts of wonderful toys in the secret laboratory his late mother built with him. But when his mostly absentee father moves the family to Minnesota, he loses access to most of his inventions (and stops having visions). Forced to sleep in a cold basement laundry room by his stepmother, Vincent's only ray of hope is his eccentric new art teacher, who gets Vincent the opportunity to enter a contest sponsored by toy designer Howard G. Whiz. Unfortunately, Kehoe's characters never amount to much more than cartoons. Vincent's stereotypically nasty stepmother favors her biological children—packing gourmet meals for their lunches, while Vincent gets the dregs—and his oblivious father is absentminded to the point of neglect. Though Vincent gets his expected moment of glory in the end, his family's last-minute turnaround feels pat and halfhearted. Ages 8–12. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Cherie Ilg Haas
Vincent Shadow is a young inventor who gets intense visions of new, creative toys. His intuitions are so strong and creative that, before she passed away, his Mom helped him build a secret laboratory. He gets to it through a secret door in his bedroom closet. After his Dad remarries, Vincent continues to work on making his ideas reality without anyone knowing, until one of his schoolteachers announces a contest for toy inventions. The winner gets to spend a summer with the great inventor Howard G. Whiz, creating new toys. This is Vincent's chance to shine, but the competition is fierce and his likelihood of winning almost disappears when he accidentally ruins his entry, a windless kite, on the night just before the actual contest. The characters in this book are compelling, and the story is told in a layered way with strong descriptions and natural dialogue. A "Top Secret Invention Notebook" comes with the book, tucked into a secret compartment of the back cover. Reviewer: Cherie Ilg Haas
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Eleven-year-old Vincent Shadow has a gift so unusual and problematic that he's always had to hide it. Much like his idol, eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla, his ideas come to him in the form of blinding, fully formed, and intricately detailed visions. Unlike Tesla's, Vincent's visions are all of fantastic toys: windless kites, everlasting squirt guns, and 3-D ink, among them. Being a boy genius was easy when Vincent's supportive mom helped him build a secret home laboratory, but following her death and his father's remarriage, things change. The family is about to move from New York to Minnesota, and Vincent's inspiration level is fading fast. Just as both his genius and morale seem to be bottoming out, he learns of a promising toy-invention contest sponsored by legendary toymaker Howard G. Whiz. If Vincent wins it, he'll earn an apprenticeship back in New York—a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to utilize his gift. As the contest nears, renewed inspiration comes from newly discovered Tesla artifacts and the surprising support of his stepsister. The question is, can Vincent overcome the last-minute sabotage by a rival in time to realize his dream? This is a solid, whimsically illustrated writing debut from a real-life toy inventor. It begs for a quick follow-up.—Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI
Kirkus Reviews
Eleven-year-old Vincent Shadow used to invent toys with his artist mother in a secret lab they built in his bedroom closet. After her death, he continued trying to bring the headache-inducing visions he has to life as prototypes. Now his museum-director father has remarried the stereotypically mean Vibs, and Vincent has to put up with three stepsisters. When his father moves the family from New York City to Vibs's hometown of Minneapolis, Vincent abandons inventing until an art teacher gets him to enter a toy contest, with predictable results. The first prize is a summer internship with reclusive toy maker Howard G. Whiz. A cliched, meandering story and undeveloped characters mar this tired riff on "Cinderella" and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Vincent's inventions are interesting, but the idea that he must steal the parts even when they are school assignments is silly and makes for a problematic protagonist. The 50 pages of Vincent's invention notebook tacked on at the end are the one high point, with gee-whiz cartoon illustrations by Wohnoutka (the spot art for the story is supplied by Francis). Easily skippable. (Fiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316056656
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 11/1/2009
  • Series: Vincent Shadow Series
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 367,642
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: 770L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Tim Kehoe

Tim Kehoe is the inventor of numerous toy products, including the world's first colored bubbles, called Zubbles, and he was recently named one of America's 100 Best by Reader's Digest. In 2005, Zubbles was awarded Popular Science's Grand Prize for Innovation. This is Tim's debut children's book. He lives with his wife and children in Minnesota. Visit him online at www.timkehoe.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 5, 2010

    Creative and Unique

    The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow is creative and well written. It held the attention of my 5th grade child, beyond what most books do, He wouldn't put it down until he finished it, after several hours. It opens the world of creativity and thinking out of the box for a young person. He can't wait for the next book to come out. I read it and was also enchanted and drawn in by the writing style and the clever ideas. I gave a copy to his teacher and she is going to do a unit around it and the creative process We love the Wimpy Kid books, at our house, and this is now our new favorite author. The extra little book attached in the back with Vincent's toy inventions has lead my child to starting his own notebook of ideas. I would highly recommend this book especially for those in 3rd to 6th grade.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 24, 2010

    My son could not put this book down.

    We purchased this book for our 8 year old 3rd grader and from the moment he opened the book he could not put it down. My dream came true when I had to tell him to "put the book down and go to sleep". He read it very quickly and has been so excited sharing the story with his family, I plan to read it soon. My son has starated his own notebook of ideas and experiements are popping up all over the house. I love how this book has excited him and inspired his creativity. I highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 21, 2011

    9$ for 90 pages

    so not worth the money, i want a refund!!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 2, 2010

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    Posted January 20, 2010

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    Posted January 9, 2010

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    Posted September 3, 2011

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    Posted April 17, 2012

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