About the Book
Title: Billy Bobble Makes a Magic Wand | Author: R.S. Mellette | Publication Date: December 8, 2014 | Publisher: Elephant's Bookshelf Press | Pages: 284 | Recommended Ages: 12+
Book Description: "E = mc2 is no longer the most powerful force in the universe. Your wand is." Twelve-year-old Billy Bobble and his best friend Suzy Quinofski didn't mean to change the universe. Billy, a quantum physics prodigy, just wanted to find a way to help his hoarding, schizophrenic mother – and maybe impress a coven of older girls in high school. Suzy, his intellectual equal, wanted to help her friend and cling to her last remnant of childhood, a belief in magic. Together they made Billy a real, working, magic wand, and opened a door to the Quantum World where thoughts create reality, and all things – good and bad – are possible.
About the Author: R.S. Mellette
Mellette is a member of the Science Fiction Writers of American and a regional board member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Billy Bobble and his best friend, Suzy Quinofski, are twelve-year old geniuses who find themselves facing the pressures of freshman year of high school combined with their hectic family lives. The book opens with Suzy being questioned about Billy's sudden disappearance in what appears, to the detectives, to be an attempt to blow up the school. Her interrogation frames the first half of the story as she relates the construction and use of the titular magic wand. The second half of the story covers the consequences of their discovery, both for themselves and for everyone around them.
This is not a middle grade novel. It is too long, too filled with jargon, and references too many mature themes for me to consider it a book appropriate for or of interest to the standard 8 to 12 year-old audience of middle grade fiction. Considering it as a young adult book, I can see it drawing the interest of middle or high school students.
Personally, I found the book ponderous and slow, and I did not find the interrogation frame useful or particularly engaging. I understand the desire to try and explain the science and physics concepts behind the creation of the wand, but these sections were lengthy and hard-to-follow (even if you already have some background in science and theoretical physics). Think Jenni Holm's The Fourteen Goldfish as an exemplar of how to mesh crazy-quasi-realistic science with an engaging middle grade story, and there is no comparison.
Overall, I think the book has some interesting ideas and themes, particularly in the interactions between our world and the Quantum World, but I think it could have pulled them together in a more coherent and accessible way.
I received a print copy of the book via Mother Daughter Book Reviews in return for my honest review.