If you are looking for books to give to young (8-10 year olds) who enjoy hands-on science fun mixed with adventure, look no further than the Nick and Tesla series, by "Science Bob" Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith.
Nick and Tesla are eleven-year-old siblings sent to live with their eccentric (to put it kindly) uncle, a mad scientist type of person, while their parents are off being scientists in central Asia. Uncle Newt has done his best to welcome them to the small town of Half Moon Bay (they each have their own composting bed!). Though Nick and Tesla aren't thrilled with their uncle's approach to housekeeping, they are excited by the possibilities of the gadget filled house and the open invitation to treat the place as a maker space for their own inventions.
And they will need to!
In the first of the series (High Voltage Danger Lab) the siblings rescue a kidnapped kid. In the second (Robot Army Rampage) they thwart a robber, and in the third (Secret Agent Gadget Battle) the stakes get even higher as Nick and Tesla themselves are in danger. The four book (Super Cyborg Gadget Glove) pits the kids against an assortment of robotic scientists gone haywire...for mysterious reasons!
It becomes clear as the books progress from simple neighborhood mysteries to actual danger that the kids' parents are not simple soybean scientists, but are in fact involved in something far more consequential....the sort of thing that you wouldn't want falling into the hands of dangerous bad guys. And Nick and Tesla, there in Half Moon Bay, are not as safe as their parents might hope....
The stories are standard fun adventures of the sort where the kids outwit the grownups, but what makes these books really interesting and appealing is that they make good use of their scientific skills to do so! The books are full of their neat inventions and contrivances, and best of all, there are clear
instructions on how you can build them yourself at home, using readily available materials. (The series' website has videos in which the inventions are demonstrated for those who need more help!)
I am tempted to build a few bug bots myself!
Here's what I especially liked--Nick gets first billing in the title, but it is his sister Tesla who is really the leader. If you want fiction to offer an elementary school girl to encourage her scientific endeavours, I can't think of better books.
Here's what else I liked--one of their two local friends, two boys who get to be sidekicks and companions in adventure, just happens to be black, shown that way in the illustrations, adding a bit of diversity that I appreciated.
So in any event, these are the sort of books that would make great presents for a fourth grader who likes science, but do be sure to check out what you will need for the inventions before handing it over, because your young reader might well want to set to work immediately.....