Dave Leys (text), and Shane Ogilvie (illustrator), The Institute of Fantastical Inventions, Harbour Publishing, July 2018, 256 pp., $14.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781922134936
The Institute of Fantastical Inventions, or IFI, aim to make your dreams and wishes come true, no matter how bizarre or impossible they seem. Do you dream of floating through the air and bursting like a bubble? IFI have the scientists to make that happen. Do you long for an extra leg? Not a problem.
Leo McGuffin is hard at work coming up with ways to make the forgettable Roger Mumble into an irresistible Man of Mystery, but in the course of his research he stumbles across a bigger mystery that could destroy IFI. Someone has stolen the blueprints for all of the Institute’s fantastical inventions, and McGuffin is going to need all the ingenious inventing he can muster to save the day.
Leo McGuffin is the quintessential bumbling genius, coming up with bizarre and brilliant inventions while completely failing at reading the people around him. The problems that McGuffin and his colleagues are working on are odd and humorous, even if some of the logical conclusions that they reach in finding solutions stretched my willingness to suspend disbelief a little too far.
The Institute of Fantastical Inventions can probably be summed up in Leo’s favourite quote from Thomas Edison: “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk”. Young readers from 9 to 12 should find this a crazy leap of logic, and a fun read.
Reviewed by Emily Clarke