Tick-Tock Tech troubles can't keep Templeton Twins down in new book

There's an old remote-control toy in your bedroom, but you rarely play with it.

You can't bring yourself to part with it, though, because you've learned that it's handy for moving things around when you're feeling lazy. Put objects on the toy, send them across the room, and there ya go. You don't even have to get up.

Your remote-control toy isn't being used for its original purpose, but that's OK. You're a creative kid, and you can do stuff like that. And in the new book "The Templeton Twins Have an Idea" by Ellis Weiner, illustrated by Jeremy Holmes, you'll meet two kids just like you.

John and Abigail Templeton were left on their own a lot.

It wasn't a bad thing. When their mother died, their father, Professor Elton Templeton, was very sad, which made his absentmindedness a little worse. Sometimes, he came home from work and went directly into his office with barely a word. When that happened, the twins made supper and took care of themselves.

At age 12, the Templeton twins were very resourceful. They could make spaghetti, which was their favorite meal. They also knew how to create all kinds of things, a talent they must have inherited from their father. You see, Professor Templeton was a gifted inventor; in fact, he created the Personal One-Man Helicopter.

Or did he ?

When the Templeton Family (including their incredibly ridiculous dog Cassie) moved to be closer to the Professor's new job at Tickeridge-Baltock Institute of Technology (also known as Tick-Tock Tech), the Professor was immediately challenged for ownership of the invention. Dean D. Dean was a former pupil of the Professor's, and Dean claimed that Professor Templeton stole his idea!

Nobody, of course, believed Dean, so he did what comes naturally to an evil genius: he took matters into his own hands. With help from his twin, Dan, Dean Dean shot the twins' nanny, Nan, and kidnapped John and Abigail.

The Dean Brothers knew that Professor Templeton would do anything to have his children back home safely. But they forgot that the Templeton Twins were a chip off the old block, and that being smart was what they did best.

I can definitely see where "The Templeton Twins Have an Idea" might be fun reading. Weiner opens this series with two typical, polite-but-smart 12-year-old kids with hobbies and interests. Their father is a typical absentminded professor-inventor. The bad guys are typical bad-guy material, and the story is quite clever.

What completely ruined everything for me, though, was the story's "narrator." This unseen, yet nearly constant character was so obnoxious that I honestly felt, at times, like I was being heckled. To say that the narrator's mean, smart-alecky, decidedly unfunny attitude was annoying is a big understatement.

And yet, "The Templeton Twins Have an Idea" has its moments - but only for 9- to 12-year-olds with sense, patience and a keen love of what's downright ridiculous. If that's the case - and proceed with caution - there's a remote chance your child might still find enjoyment here.

View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer's children's book reviews weekly.