Spin the Golden Light Bulb (The Crimson Five #1) Review
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Before they’re struck by the realities of the “real world,” children are creative and inventive; they’re full of wonder and possibilities. And in Spin the Golden Light Bulb, author Jackie Yeager introduces readers to a group of young inventors whose ideas could change the world.

The story begins in New York in 2071, as eleven-year-old aspiring inventor Kia Krumpet is preparing to participate with the rest of the country’s sixth graders in the annual Piedmont Challenge. After she and four of her classmates are selected as the finalists from New York, they’re sent to Camp Piedmont, where they spend the summer working together to come up with a creative solution to a universal question. But Kia isn’t sure that her teammates will ever get along—and she’s desperate to win, so she can attend the country’s top school for inventors instead of being sent back home to study nothing but math for the rest of her life.

At Camp Piedmont, these kids learn all kinds of valuable lessons about creativity, compromise, and teamwork. The members of the Crimson Five are all very different—which, while frustrating for them at first, turns out to be a good thing, since they all have different strengths.

Still, the projects featured in the story don’t always seem to fit. At camp, the competitors are surrounded by amazing inventions. The girls’ bedchamber has floating sparkles that purify the air. The boys’ rooms include a bunk bed that allows the beds to switch places. There are robots and fancy digital devices. And they were supposedly all designed by former competitors—all of whom are just finishing sixth grade. It seems unlikely that children so young could design such sophisticated inventions.

The team’s invention, on the other hand, seems more juvenile—a project that’s supposed to answer the question of what happens when we die, but it really just discusses various processes once can choose from after death. It doesn’t solve any problems, and it’s far from the same level of sophistication of the projects developed by previous teams.

The story also features a strange sport—Nacho Cheese Ball (which, while the rules in general are given very little development, basically involves throwing balls of actual cheese)—that serves as little more than a bizarre distraction from the rest of the story. The kids don’t really learn anything from taking part in the competition, and the sport just seems completely ridiculous.

But Nacho Cheese Ball isn’t the story’s only glitch. A number of plot points simply don’t seem to work—and after building up to the final round of the competition, the story’s conclusion is surprisingly abrupt and unsatisfying. While the story may be cute and clever, the execution is rather flawed.

Spin the Golden Light Bulb is an imaginative story about a group of gifted kids—but readers will have to overlook a number of issues in order to appreciate its creativity. It’s a great idea that I hope will be more successful in the sequel.

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