'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 28 February 2020

The Institute of Fantastical Inventions

Leo McGuffin, scientist and inventor, is the Chief Technical Officer at the Institute of Fantastical Inventions. 

His job is to take people’s fantasies and turn them into reality – like a genie who operates on the principles of science rather than using magic.

We see Leo using his rather convoluted logic when applying his scientific knowledge into the sort of inventions everybody wishes they could have – an extra leg that glows in the dark? No worries. The ability to float around like a bubble? Sure, why not. 

McGuffin’s methods reminded me a little of the experimental chemist, George from Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine.

With the assistance of Boy Genius, Edward, they discover a plan to steal the institute’s inventions, and need to ramp their problem solving skills up to the max to capture the crooks and retrieve all of their blueprints. The climax is quite hilarious.

I quite like that the book was scattered with scientific facts – this would draw in its target audience - and that McGuffin debunked psychics and various pseudo-sciences throughout. However, the silly and funny inventions created by McGuffin did not detract from the lack of a story problem until past the mid-point. 

Sure, McGuffin and co had a great deal of challenges and accidents to keep them busy throughout the book, and his inventions were eventually used in some way to solve the problem – but these may not be enough to keep all but the most ardent fans of crazy scientific inventions invested in the story to keep reading past the first few chapters.

Nevertheless, it was all good silly fun.

The best news for McGuffin fans is that book two is now out and we'll be featuring it right here on KBR so keep your eyes peeled for that one. (But don't actually peel your eyes. That would hurt like crazy!)

Title: The Institute of Fantastical Inventions
Author: Dave Leys
Illustrator: Shane Ogilvie
Publisher: Harbour Publishing House, $14.99
Publication Date:   September 2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN:  9781922134936
For ages: 8 – 12 
Type: Junior Fiction