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Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle

Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle

3.6 3
by Bob Pflugfelder, Steve Hockensmith

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After foiling a gang of kidnappers and fending off an army of robots, 11-year-old siblings Nick and Tesla Holt could use a little rest! But as their third mystery opens, they discover there’s a spy in their midst, searching for secrets in the home of their beloved (and slightly crazy) Uncle Newt. Is it the new laboratory assistant? The exterminator? The


After foiling a gang of kidnappers and fending off an army of robots, 11-year-old siblings Nick and Tesla Holt could use a little rest! But as their third mystery opens, they discover there’s a spy in their midst, searching for secrets in the home of their beloved (and slightly crazy) Uncle Newt. Is it the new laboratory assistant? The exterminator? The housekeepers? Or someone completely unexpected? To expose the mystery agent, Nick and Tesla must engineer all kinds of outrageous contraptions, from code wheels and fingerprint powder to spy cameras and burglar detectors. Best of all, instructions are included throughout the story, so you can build the projects, too!

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This high-speed caper with comical characters, clever kid detectives, and an ever-deepening mystery (with a cliff-hanger, of course) will keep the pages turning.”—Booklist
“With the promise of more mystery, science, and humor to come, children will be anxiously waiting for more adventures—and more inventions—from Nick and Tesla.”—School Library Journal
“Fast-paced, suspenseful and enlivened with grayscale illustrations, this is appealing middle-grade reading . . . [and] the continuing mystery will keep readers wanting more.”—Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab
Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab has the perfect formula:  Mega-watts of funny writing plus giga-hertz of hands-on science equals fun to the billionth power!”—Chris Grabenstein, New York Times best selling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library
“Real project blueprints are included along with this tale of 11-year-old siblings who create outrageous contraptions and top-secret gadgets.”—Los Angeles Times
“...the combination of exciting elements and innovative DIY projects in action yields a guaranteed pager turner.”—ScienceBuddies.org
[Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab is] a great way to show kids that problems can often be solved by applying a bit of creative energy with some tech know-how. And Nick and Tesla (and Uncle Newt) are the perfect companions for your young reader looking for some (safe) adventures.”—Geek Dad
“A mystery, adventure, and activity book all rolled into one entertaining story....Plenty of excitement, with science.”—Common Sense Media
“Part mystery, part mad science...the story will leave readers wondering what mayhem will be forthcoming.”—School Library Journal
“...a strong start...”—Publishers Weekly
“How do you connect students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) with fiction reading? Look for science adventures. Get started with the NICK AND TESLA series. Each book contains an engaging adventure revolving around a “build-it-yourself” science project.”—Teacher Librarian
“Engaging characters and brisk plotting make this a fun and educational read.”—Jennifer Ouellette, author of The Calculus Diaries and The Physics of the Buffyverse
“A promising first offer in a series that offers plenty of appeal for middle-grade and middle school readers.­”—Kirkus
“Suspenseful, funny, and loaded with do-it-yourself robots, rockets, and burglar alarms. Nick and Tesla are an unforgettable new detective team, sure to inspire an entirely new generation of scientists and readers. Can’t wait for the next book!”—Amy Herrick, author of The Time Fetch
“A book with action, adventure, mystery, humor — and instructions on how to build rockets and robots.  What more could young readers possibly want?  'Nick & Tesla' is a great book that will keep your kids enthralled with its intriguing story — and inspire them with its clever science experiments.  I can't wait for the further adventures of these fascinating characters.”—Stuart Gibbs, Edgar-nominated author of Spy School and Belly Up
“I love the book! It combines science, intrigue and great fiction together in a wild ride for the reader. Nothing tickles me more than seeing a story really charged up with science. And the projects are so much fun! More please!”—Lynn Brunelle, four-time Emmy Award–winning writer for “Bill Nye the Science Guy” and the author of Pop Bottle Science
“What kid wouldn't want to join Nick and Tesla and their wacky family? This is a great way for budding scientists to have fun while exploring the intricacies of physics, chemistry, and more—up close, personal, and hands-on!”—Jane Hammerslough, author of Owl Puke: The Book and Dino Poop: And Other Remarkable Remains of the Past
“Pflugfelder and Hockensmith debut a captivating series about crime-solving kid inventors in the spirit of Tom Swift and Alvin Fernald. But Nick and Tesla give us what their literary predecessors always omitted: blueprints for whiz-bang inventions that kids can actually build themselves (with some adult assistance). Electromagnets, tracking devices, rockets and the like. Hands-on science has never been so cool.”—Joseph D'Agnese, author of Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci
Children's Literature - Julia Beiker
A strange message from their mother leads Tesla and Nick to assume everyone wants to spy on them at their Uncle’s house, especially when Tesla’s tracking devise disappears right under her nose. A string of zany, outrageous characters, from an exterminator to maids, head the list of possible spies. Our young heroes enlist the help of two friends to create a variety of wild gadgets to thwart the devious attacks from multiple enemies. The story is never obvious; the unusual plot and action bring it alive, despite its static characters. The added bonus of actual spy gadgets built from household items enhances the storyline, but make it critical that the adult restriction section at the beginning of the book be read. Although the book looks long, the simple sentence structure, illustrations, and pages of spyware instructions create a fast-reading book that should capture both male and female readers. This book is part of the “Nick and Tesla” series. Reviewer: Julia Beiker; Ages 8 to 12.
Kirkus Reviews
Determined to uncover the identity of the secret agent who seems to be right inside their uncle Newt's house with them, 11-year-old twins Nick and Tesla construct a variety of spy-revealing gadgets in this third of an ongoing mystery-and-how-to series. When an unfinished phone message from their mother reveals that there is someone nearby they can't trust—and the message is suddenly erased—Nick and Tesla begin to see spies everywhere. Is it Oli, Uncle Newt's new apprentice, who's obviously not from Australia? Is it Skip, the exterminator from Verminator Pest Control, or Ethel and Gladys from Maids-to-Order? All these strangers are suspiciously hanging around the house where Uncle Newt is supposed to be keeping them safe while their parents are away on a shadowy mission. The inventive twins construct a fingerprint finder, alarm, spy camera and code wheels to use with their friends Silas and DeMarco, who help their investigations. Even Uncle Newt joins in at the end to distract the discovered evildoers with his mashed-banana–filled balloon weaponry. Instructions and diagrams are provided so that readers can do the same. Fast-paced, suspenseful and enlivened with grayscale illustrations, this is appealing middle-grade reading. Hot-glue–gun fans will barely need the story that surrounds this new set of do-it-yourself gadget projects, but the continuing mystery will keep readers wanting more. (Adventure. 9-13)
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—With a penchant for inventing and sleuthing, 11-year-old twins Nick and Tesla return for a third mystery. The siblings have been visiting their Uncle Newt, an eccentric scientist, for the summer, while their parents work on a mysterious government project in Uzbekistan. After receiving a cryptic message from their mother warning them of a potential spy, Nick begins to suspect everyone of espionage, while Tesla is not so sure—until the pendant her parents gave her is stolen. The list of possible culprits is lengthy, including Uncle Newt's burly new apprentice, a pair of geriatric maids, a spider-fearing exterminator, and a disgruntled neighbor with an affinity for garden gnomes. Using their ingenuity and science know-how—and a multitude of homemade gadgets—the twins catch the thief and uncover a few more clues about the true nature of their parents' work. Although the third in a series, this entertaining and humorous whodunit is straightforward enough that it can be read as a stand-alone. Cautious Nick and confident Tesla are both well defined, as is the quirky cast of comical characters that surrounds them. As with the previous books, instructions for each of Nick and Tesla's inventions are included, giving resourceful children the opportunity to make their own gadgets. With the promise of more mystery, science, and humor to come, children will be anxiously waiting for more adventures—and more inventions—from Nick and Tesla.—Laura J. Giunta, Garden City Public Library, NY

Product Details

Quirk Publishing
Publication date:
Nick and Tesla Series , #3
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.10(h) x 0.90(d)
680L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

“It’s her,” Nick said. “She’s the spy.”
     “Who is?” said Tesla. 
     She looked around. She and her brother were in their uncle’s backyard, about to test-fly the hoop glider they’d been working on that morning. There was only one other person in sight: a fortyish woman crouched over a bed of begonias about forty feet away. She was wearing jeans and a T-shirt and dirty gardening gloves. A sweat-soaked bandana was wrapped around her head.
     She didn’t look much like a spy to Tesla.
     “You mean Julie Casserly?”
     Nick nodded, eyeing the woman suspiciously.
     “I can feel it in my gut,” he said. “She’s always watching us. Always glaring.”
     “Well, of course she is. Wouldn’t you if you lived next door to Uncle Newt?”
Nick and Tesla’s uncle was an inspired, ingenious, innovative inventor. Unfortunately, he was also a forgetful, dreamy, not-particularly-safety-minded one. Since the kids had come to stay with him a couple weeks earlier, his out-of-control creations had chewed up Julie’s flower beds, demolished one of her garden gnomes, set her lawn on fire, and splattered her car with thirty pounds of putrid bananas flambé. (Uncle Newt was convinced he could build an engine for a vacuum cleaner that ran on compost. So far, he’d only succeeded in building several extremely smelly time bombs.)
     Maybe Julie would have overcome her dislike for Uncle Newt and warmed up to Nick and Tesla—maybe—but the kids were wannabe inventors themselves. They could often be found in their uncle’s backyard testing out homemade hovercrafts and balloon rockets and robots.
     And, this day, a hoop glider.
     “What is that?” Julie said when Tesla lifted the glider and prepared to send it on its first flight. She’d turned from her begonias to shoot Nick and Tesla a wary glare. “A remote-controlled spear?”
Tesla lowered the glider. It was just a couple hoops of stiff paper, a small one in front and a larger one behind it, connected by a straw.
     “No,” said Tesla.
     “A computerized javelin?” said Julie.
     “A self-shooting arrow?”
     “Some kind of missile?”
     “It’s a glider,” said Nick.
     Julie narrowed her eyes. “And what’s that supposed to do?”
     “Uhh . . . glide,” said Tesla.
     Julie cocked her head, her lips twisting into a tight, sarcastic smile.
     “Oh, sure. It just glides,” she said. She pushed herself up from her knees and began walking away.
     “Well, let me get inside before you set it loose. I don’t want to be here when it ‘glides’ someone into the hospital.”
     The woman marched around the corner of her house and disappeared.
     “Not very brave for a spy,” Tesla said.
     “Maybe that’s just her cover,” Nick grumbled. “Anyway, go ahead. I want to see if this thing works.”
     Tesla brought the glider up again, pointed it away from Julie’s yard, and launched it with a flick of the wrist. It shot away with surprising speed and flew smoothly over Uncle Newt’s lawn, arcing to the left as it went.
     “Whoa! Look at it go!” said Nick.
     “And go and go and go,” said Tesla.
     She’d expected the glider to fly five yards, tops, yet even after twenty it was still six feet off the ground and not slowing down. In fact, it was soaring toward some trees on the other side of Uncle Newt’s property, perhaps about to fly out of the yard altogether.
     “Hey, kids!” a cheerful voice called out. “Whatcha up to?”
     It was Uncle Newt’s other neighbor, Mr. Jones, stepping out onto his patio. The paunchy, gray-haired man was wary of Uncle Newt’s inventions—which was wise—yet he always had a smile and a wave for Nick and Tesla.
     Unfortunately, it was a really bad time for a smile and a wave.
     “Mr. Jones!” Nick cried out. “Duck!”
     “A duck? Where?”
     Mr. Jones looked up into the sky.
     The glider came swooping through the trees and smacked him in the face.
     Nick and Tesla ran to the old man as he staggered back into his house. He managed to find his footing again just as the kids reached him.
     “Where did that crazy duck go?” he started to say.
     Then he saw the hoop glider lying in the doorway.
     “Oh,” he said.
     “We’re sorry, Mr. Jones,” said Nick.
     “We had no idea it was going to fly this far,” said Tesla.
     Mr. Jones rubbed his bulbous nose—which was now slightly more bulbous and way redder than usual.
     “No harm done,” he said.
     He didn’t sound like he meant it, though, and the smile he gave the kids when he handed them their glider seemed strained.
     Mr. Jones closed the door on Nick and Tesla, muttering something about getting an ice pack.
     “Great,” Tesla said as she and her brother trudged away. “The one neighbor who’s nice, and we go and throw a paper airplane up his nose.”
     “It was an accident,” Nick said. “And who’s to say Mr. Jones is such a nice guy anyway?”
     Tesla looked over at her brother, thinking he might be joking.
     Nick hadn’t been joking much lately, though. And he never joked about this.
     “It’s him,” Nick said. “He’s the spy.”
     “Mr. Jones? He must be, like, two hundred years old.”
     “Spies get old like everyone else.” Nick threw a suspicious squint over his shoulder. “He’s always watching us. Always smiling.”
     “So now being nice makes someone a suspect?”
     “Why not? You remember what Mom said.”
     Tesla did remember, of course.
     She just wished she could forget.

Meet the Author

“Science Bob” Pflugfelder is an elementary school teacher based in Newton, Massachusetts. He has made many television appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Dr. Oz Show, Live with Kelly & Michael, and other media outlets. These are his first books. Steve Hockensmith is the author of a New York Times best seller and an Edgar Award nominee. He lives in Alameda, California.

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Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You havn't posted at victor yet
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
Another great story for Nick and Tesla. In this adventure they are trying to find out who is spying on them. The authors provided us with a handful of very humorous possibilities. I loved watching Nick and Tesla try to figure out each and every one of them. The techniques they used and the gadgets they build have instructions that are very easy to follow once again. It was a perfect mix of fun and education. My 11 year old daughter is loving this series as well.  *This book was received in exchange for an honest revew*