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Too clever for his own good

ernon Bright, in the Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore series, has the protagonist of Frindle's talent for outwitting teachers (see above). The latest book, Vernon Bright and the End of the World (Puffin pound;3.99) sees Vernon, a scrawny scientific genius, recklessly accepting a challenge to a weight-lifting contest from Mr Hardman the games teacher, assuming that brain will always get the better of brawn. Vernon's madcap attempts to defy lack of muscle and the forces of gravity lead him into dangerous territory, ultimately threatening life on the planet. These well-paced, funny and engrossing stories make science enticing to the uninitiated in Year 4 and above.

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