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Review: The Templeton Twins Have an Idea

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Looking for new books to share with your child? Check out the book review below! Each week we bring you the latest reviews of books geared toward children in grades K-5 from the creators of "Sweet on Books", a locally-based initiative with reviews written for you exclusively by mothers, as part of our ABC7 Learning Section Enjoy!

Title: The Templeton Twins Have an Idea

TempletonTwins Author: Ellis Weinter

Illustrator: Jeremy Holmes

Themes: Adventure, Humor, Illness/Death, Moving, Siblings

Published: 2012, 232 pages

'Sweet' book summary:
Reviewer: Melissa G.

The Templeton Twins is a clever new series that is sure to be a hit. It features John and Abigail Templeton, 12-year-old twins, who happen to be exceptionally smart, considerate and quite nice to each other. Their father is a somewhat absent-minded professor and their mother has recently passed away. Their story is told by a hilarious "Narrator" who refuses to reveal his or her identity and who happens to be exceptionally pompous, saying things like:



"Fill in the blank: The Narrator is doing an excellent job, and I am very grateful to him. (Hint: This is a trick question. In fact, it's so tricky, it's not a question at all. This statement needs no filling in, and there is no blank to fill in. But it expresses a lovely sentiment with which I'm sure you'll agree.)"

Yes, John and Abigail are appealing and interesting characters, but the narrator definitely steals the show. He is witty, sarcastic and thoroughly entertaining. He addresses the reader directly and at the end of each chapter offers "Questions for Review" that are just as funny as his narration. For example, one question is "How would the Templeton twins' lives have been different had they never been born?" He also shares amusing definitions of words and phrases such as voila, en route, quad, prologue, and prototype. He even explains how to hot-wire a car!

Getting back to John and Abigail, the story focuses on them and their family, with no mention of any friends or acquaintances. They spend much of their time on their individual hobbies, for John that is playing the drums, and for Abigail that means doing cryptic crosswords. Here's what the narrator has to say about hobbies:

"A hobby, which is an old-fashioned word people don't use much anymore, refers to something you do simply because you like it and find it interesting and fulfilling. You don't get paid to do it. You don't get extra credit in school for doing it...You don't do it to save the whales."

The twins' immediate goal is to convince their dad to get them a dog, and even the way they do that is thoughtful and unique. Despite the contemplative nature of the kids, this story is filled with plenty of action and humor. The Professor changes jobs from Elysian University to Tick-Tock Tech, and the family moves nearby. They adjust to a new babysitter, Nanny Nan Noonan, and they cope with the threats of a disgruntled ex-student, Dean D. Dean. When the twins are later kidnapped at gunpoint by Dean (who claims that the Professor stole his idea for a "Personal One-Man Helicopter") and his twin brother, Dan, they manage to stay calm and use their smarts to out-wit the goofy adults. Beyond the humor and all the clever silliness, there is a subtle message found in the professor's comment, "What matters is not what ideas you have, but what you do with your ideas."

Readers won't want to miss the illustrations which are just as much fun as the story itself. They offer amusing details and great insight into the action. The use of diagrams, the font size changes, and variations in the backgrounds will also keep readers interested. Although the plot includes some serious issues like the passing of their mother and being kidnapped at gunpoint, they are mixed so perfectly with the humor of the story that they shouldn't leave readers feeling at all sad or scared.

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What You Need to Know:
  • With the help of a sarcastic and entertaining Narrator, this book introduces readers to 12-year-old twins, John and Abigail Templeton.
  • The twins' mother has recently passed away.
  • Cryptic crosswords that will challenge the reader are included throughout the story.
  • The Templeton Twins is a great selection for both boys and girls.
  • This book is the first in a new series. Book two is expected out in September 2013.
  • Check out the book's tumblr page to learn more about The Templeton Twins and their next adventure.
  • Don't miss the narrator's detailed (and very funny) meatloaf recipe with directions such as "egg, lightly beaten (This does not mean you should take a whip or a club and "beat" the egg.)"
  • Ellis Weiner has been an editor of National Lampoon, a columnist forSpy and a writer for children's television.
If you liked this book, try:
  • Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms by Lissa Evans
  • The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow by Tim Kehoe
  • The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
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