Empowering boys to find a passion for reading is the life’s work of Jon Scieszka, the 59-year-old elementary school teacher turned multi-million-selling children’s author. At the age of eight, his own son was prescribed Little House on the Prairie to read at school. ‘I asked him how he was enjoying the book,’ Scieszka says. ‘He turned to me and said, “Are you kidding me? Is anything ever going to happen?” And that sent him the message: if this – dense fiction writing – is reading, then I’m not a reader.’
His son’s experience, and a befuddlement that ‘the educational world cannot tap into the mania and energy’ that boys have for non-fiction, helped fuel Scieszka’s latest franchise. Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor is the first in a six-part series centred on its eponymous child genius hero. It integrates real science, immersive and educational illustrative diagrams and experiments that children can (safely) undertake themselves.