School looks a little different right now for a lot of kids, but National Geographic Kids can help children feel like they’re getting some of the social experience they’re missing out on through the first volume in a new book series. Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T. Squad: Absolute Hero is a fun book about five middle school girls, each inspired by a famous historical scientist with interests that match their namesakes field of study or discovery. It’s a fun story about friendship and problem solving, one that doesn’t feel as educational as it truly is.
Izzy Newton and her best friends Allie Einstein and Charlie Darwin are excited to begin sixth grade at Atom Middle School. But when they find out that their old friend Marie Curie has moved back to town and didn’t tell them, jealous feelings run high as Marie makes friends with a girl they think is too cool for them named Gina Carver. As Izzye, Allie and Charlie work on solving the school’s temperature problem, they hope they can warm back up into Marie’s friendship circle.
Embedded within this relatable story of friendship and jealousy are learning moments beyond the scientists that inspired these four characters. The Scientific Method, Occam’s Razor, and Pi all become key parts of the story, giving kids an easy way to remember them through entertainment. These lessons are repeated at the back of the book, along with brief descriptions about the real-life scientists that inspired the five main characters: Sir Isaac Newton (Izzy Newton), Charles Darwin (Charlie Darwin), Alber Einstein (Allie Einstein), Marie Curie (same name), and George Washington Carver (Gina Carver). There’s also some information on inspiring women scientists and two female National Geographic Explorers.
The Izzy Newton series comes from writer Valerie Tripp, a key contributor to the American Girl historical fiction book series. Her experience and expertise make the transition to a more science-based series with some historical elements feel very natural. The book also features occasional illustrations by artist Geneva Bowers, who showcases the diversity of this S.M.A.R.T. Squad (Solving Mysteries And Revealing Truths).
Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T. Squad: Absolute Hero is the first in a series of modern-day stories starring these characters based on real science heroes. The next book will be called “Newton’s Flaw” and readers get a little taste of what comes next with the first three pages of the next book at the end of this one. Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T. Squad: Absolute Hero is a great way for kids to absorb the middle school social experience while still learning or reinforcing scientific principles.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.