Atomic Weight of Secrets, by Eden Unger Bowditch (book review) – inventions, intrigue, adventure

book cover of Atomic Weight of Secrets by Eden Unger Bowditch published by Bancroft Press | recommended on“Strange round bird with three flat wings, Never ever stops when it shivers and sings” – what an odd song to learn as a child! And not to know any other nursery rhymes or children’s stories

Welcome to the slightly steampunk world of The Young Inventors’ Guild in 1903! Meet five brilliant children with incredibly talented, intelligent parents – parents who are swept away from them as the children are brought from around the world to a small farm outside Dayton, Ohio, USA.

And those mysterious men in black who take them to and fro in black carriages and other conveyances – every time the children see them, they’re wearing different all-black outfits, including tam o’shanters and top hats, Zouave pants and riding breeches, fur coats and inflatable vests.

Their parents hardly even write letters to them (this is 1903, after all), yet dear Miss Brett (their teacher in the farmhouse) assures the children that they are quite alright. The children’s various discoveries lead them to decide that they must invent something to ensure their safety and escape from the men in black.
Perhaps there are some grown-ups they can trust to provide some necessary assistance in this covert operation?

Feel free to share this adventure with younger readers as we wait for the next volume of The Young Inventors’ Guild Trilogy to be published.

Book info: The Atomic Weight of Secrets, or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black / Eden Unger Bowditch. Bancroft Press, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My book talk: Five brilliant children whose parents are talented scientists – why have they been brought to a farm in Ohio in 1903 from their homes all over the world by mysterious men in black costumes of all sorts? And what about their new weekend homes in the city nearby, with wonderful nannies and bedrooms for their parents who never arrive?

Having school with Miss Brett at the farm is much nicer than being bullied at their school in London, think Jasper and Lucy, but where are their parents? Faye misses working in her parents’ laboratory in India, where she was treated like a princess. Noah can’t play his violin right now, worrying that his mother doesn’t know where he is (she left to star in another opera just before…). And Wallace, well, his late mother said he’d make a discovery before his 10th birthday that would save the world – and he has just a few days to finish the project.

The youngsters teach Miss Brett about their advanced experiments, and she introduces them to the wonderful world of stories and rhymes and children’s games that their tutors and scientific encyclopedias never covered. During the week, they discover farm animals’ habits and hopscotch and how to bake biscuits, then are taken “home” to their nannies by roundabout routes in black carriages or autocars by men in odd black outfits every weekend. Whether at the farm or in town, patrols of men in black circle around their residences like clockwork, week after week.

The children investigate a pageless journal Lucy found in her mother’s room and discover that it once contained pages written by the Young Inventors’ Guild. They decide to use it to chronicle their experiments as they pool their knowledge of scientific principles so they can escape the mysterious men in black and rescue their parents!

Are their parents safe? Why don’t they write or even use that newfangled telephone device in the farmhouse closet?
Can the birdwatcher seen near the farm help them?
What about Faye’s cousin or those clever brothers they met in town?

Mystery, science, and the song of The Strange Round Bird (which they all learned as tiny children) meld in this exciting first volume of The Young Inventors’ Guild series. (One of 5,000 books recommended on

5 thoughts on “Atomic Weight of Secrets, by Eden Unger Bowditch (book review) – inventions, intrigue, adventure

  1. Eden – So sweet of you to visit BooksYALove all the way from Egypt! Wishing you safe travels to Baltimore and beyond… and happy writing as we wait for more from The Young Inventors Guild!

    **Katy M
    Recommending YA books beyond the bestsellers at
    Follow me on Twitter @BooksYALove

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