• Ellie

Review: The Smartest Kid in the Universe by Chris Grabenstein

Updated: Dec 4, 2021

Today I am bringing you a review for a fun middle grade novel by Chris Grabenstein. He is the author to the very popular Mr. Lemoncello's library series and many other books. This book comes out on December 1st. Here is a link to pre-order or purchase. (This is an affiliate link with Bookshop.org. An online retailer that supports local bookstores. I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.)


The Smartest Kid in the Universe is a middle grade novel about Jake, a 5th grade kid who accidentally eats a jellybean that suddenly makes him a genius. However, with great knowledge comes great challenges and being the smartest kid isn’t always the easiest thing. This one mistake sends him on all types of adventures. This is a story about using his smarts to save the world. 


I found this book very similar to other Chris Grabenstein books in terms of the story arc and the types of characters in the story. Like all his other books, there is one character who will go to any means necessary to reach his or her goal. In this case, it is the principal, Mrs. Malvolio, who wants to tear down Riverview Middle School to create a new, bigger building. She also has her eyes on a hidden treasure under the school which doesn’t belong to her, but that doesn’t matter because she is determined to get it. Jake and his friends work to get the treasure to its rightful owner and save the school.   


This is a very fast paced story with short chapters which makes it an easy read. As a story, I wasn’t really enjoying it very much when I was reading it. Since it is a middle grade novel, I found it quite predictable and the characters not anything new. Despite these factors, for which I cannot blame the book since it is a book for middle graders, I did find the story very creative. I like the twist on a classic school story with the jelly beans that make you a genius. Many of the characters are positive role models and the ending of the book is very sweet.


One of my favorite parts of the book was Jake’s interactions with professor Haazim Farooqi, the scientist who invented the jelly bean. He was a very fun character and some things happen to him in the story that were very unpredictable and added some scenes in the plot.


I would recommend this book for readers between the ages of 8-12 and especially boys and reluctant readers. The story is interesting. It is a very light read and I think could be highly enjoyable for kids. I also think that readers of Chris Grabenstein will enjoy this one as much as his other works because it is the same high energy, slightly unrealistic type of story that his readers devour.


I gave this book 3/5 stars.


I was provided an e-arc via Netgalley. All my opinions are my own.

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