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The Mystery of Silas Finklebean: Freddy and the French Fries #2    by David Baldacci order for
Mystery of Silas Finklebean
by David Baldacci
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This sequel to Baldacci's hilarious Fries Alive! continues the adventures of nine-year-old geek Freddy, his best friend (cheese-cube addict) Howie and his five nanotech Frankenfries - Theodore, Wally, Ziggy, Curly, and split Si/Meese, each with a distinct talent and personality.

A science contest looms and Freddy is determined to win - if he doesn't, a foolish bet means he will have to work for Adam Spanker for a month without pay, a humiliating prospect. At the same time, Freddy and friends have found a tunnel linking his dad's Burger Castle restaurant to their enemies' Patty Cakes. In it they met a ghost hovering in mid air, that of Silas Finklebean, a benevolent and very rich inventor who mysteriously disappeared. The usual silly shenanigans result in a discovery by Freddy and friends of plans that apply 'quantum theory, black holes, wormholes, and string theory' to the design of a time machine - just the thing to impress the science fair judges and save Freddie from servitude to the nasty Spankers.

This episode combines sibling conflict (Freddy's sister Nancy has dramatic ambitions and a lofty sense of self), villains with too much power and too little sense, the mystery of what happened to Silas Finklebean, and the usual zany dialog between the Fries. I especially enjoy Theodore's high-flown language ('I'm sure they have a cornucopia of gastronomic delights in this century, Wally') and its opaqueness to Wally ('Yeah, but do they have FOOD?') Lessons in fair play and cheating are built in to the story without being overt, and just as before, Mystery of Silas Finklebean is rollicking fun for the chapter book crowd.

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