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Top Secret

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  435 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Fans of Jennifer Holm's The Fourteenth Goldfish will fall in love with this humorous story about one boy's school science project that goes terribly wrong. Perfect for STEM curricula.
Despite the disapproval of his parents and his formidable science teacher, nine-year-old Allen is determined to do his school science project on human photosynthesis--turning sunlight into fo
...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published October 1st 1995 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 1984)
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Alanah Despite the disapproval of his parents and his formidable science teacher, nine-year-old Allen determines to do his science project on human photosynt…moreDespite the disapproval of his parents and his formidable science teacher, nine-year-old Allen determines to do his science project on human photosynthesis.(less)

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Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  435 ratings  ·  62 reviews


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Michael Vlieger
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Second reading. I originally read it in grade school and it was the first book I stayed up late with a flashlight just to finish. Just as good the second time, even if I didn't need a flashlight. ...more
Holly
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read this book to my science kids every year. It touches on several science concepts that leads into specific topics in my science classroom as well as a few life skills. The kids love the book and usually don't want me to stop reading for the day.

In the beginning of the story the boy has to decide on a topic for his science fair project. Thus begins the struggle of him vs the teacher. He thinks he has the best possible topic and the teacher does not. Even though the teacher assigns him a diff
...more
Kristina
Oct 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how this book would hold up, but I really enjoyed this book when I was a kid. I probably read it when it was released in 1987. ...more
Nancy Kotkin
Allen Brewster is certain he has uncovered the secret to human photosynthesis, even if his teacher and his own parents don't believe him. More science fiction than science, this story is far-fetched, but there's some great stuff in here about the scientific method and the spirit of discovery.

Originally published in 1984, this chapter book does use some outdated terms (such as "neat" instead of "cool" and "grammar school" instead of "elementary school"). But if you can get past that, the story is
...more
AnnieM
May 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was much better than I thought it would be. The imagination of the small boy and how adults and the government can squash a great idea just because they can't see into the future or worse the greater good.

B.D. Wong is quickly becoming one of my favorite narrators. I was worried because I also like him as an actor and it seems that I can either love a narrator or an actor, not a narrating actor.

Trust me.

...more
Courtney
Apr 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrenslit, fiction
I remember loving this story about a boy who wants to discover human photosynthesis for his fourth grade science project. No one believes he can do it...but he starts experimenting on himself. His skin turns green, he gets aphids, and starts growing roots. Soon, the government is interested in his project. Seems like Allen may be on to something...
Jake.l
Feb 11, 2013 added it
I think this book is really good because I like the way that the author put the ways what that thing means and how it's explained. This book is written by John Reynolds . I rate this book three stars . ...more
Paul
Oct 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
one of my favorite books as a child - the impetus for numerous experiments, attempts at creating a super plant growth formula... which generally consisted mostly of toothpaste.
Anne K. Pott
Jul 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: jf-funny
I remember this book from my childhood and just had to try it again! It was very much like I remembered it...very fun and kind of nerdy. :)
Vanessa
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Allen Brewster is a fourth grader who comes up with the ides of "human photosynthesis" for his school science project. Everyone, except his grandpa, thinks that it is an outrageous idea. After some research, he uses himself as his guinea pig and begins turning into a plant, only problem is no one believes him, but then the U.S. Government gets involved!
I chose this book because it was a fun story line with real scientific vocabulary.
This is a fiction book meant for 3rd grade and beyond.
This book
...more
Kirsten Simkiss
May 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
I read this when I was quite young and rather loved it. But now, as an adult, I find myself insulted by how ridiculous the science is in this book. Drinking liver smoothies will not turn you into a plant. That's not how that works. Also, the kid does not in any way, shape, or form use the scientific method, so it can't even be used as a teaching book about why the scientific method is important. Overall, I would recommend this to kids who are really good as suspending belief or too young to know ...more
Autumn Bundy
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves science and suspenseful novels. This book is about a science fair project that goes horribly wrong. Even though a student, Allen Brewster, was told to do a science project over lipstick, his stubborn personality pushes him to do the thing that he was told not to. Instead, he does the science project over human photosynthesis. He becomes the
examinee and things drastically change. Will his science project win the silver trophy that he dreams of or
...more
Maria
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
We were assigned this book to review for Middle School readers to be used in a science class. I think I would have liked it more had I been reading it with the intent for Elementary school readers. It was ok. I did enjoy the ending.
Amisha
Jul 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Another one I read with my kid that I fished out from the pile I had read as a child. No idea why this book stayed with me all these years and I remember it so vividly. It was a good book with good lessons. I’m glad I thought of it.
Tisha
Aug 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Strange plot line, but somehow it all worked.
Pamela
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Audiobook.
Very entertaining book. I loved the grandfather's support of the boy and his advice on how to make his scientific discovery.
...more
Summer
Nov 07, 2018 rated it liked it
A boy named Allen wants to dicover human Photothysis But Miss Green wants him to do his project on lipstick.So one night.
Sadie
Literature selection committee book. Cute quick story about a science project. Only thing is that I had a hard time believing that the main character was only in 4th grade.
Percy Randall
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
i read this book as a 4th grader and now i'm a communist ...more
gina
Oct 08, 2011 rated it liked it
I screened this quasi-fantasy book to use as a group read with my fourth graders. This story about the creative-minded Allen Brewster will appeal to all kids. Allen's idea for a science fair project--to create human photosynthesis--is rejected by his teacher and his parents. In fact, the only person who believes he can complete the experiment is his granddad, who encourages him to think outside of the box. The fantasy aspects of this story are Roald Dahl-esque and will make anybody laugh. Specif ...more
Roberto Scarlato
May 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A perfect story which I found really entertaining. I read it over a period of three days when I was a little tyke. I think this was the first kiddie novel I ever read. It all starts when the main character tries to create a science project, accidentally turning himself into a walking, talking, green-boy who feeds off of sunlight and whose skin likes to grow roots. There are some really funny moments and even a nod to government conspiracy here and there. But the most treasured thing in this book ...more
 Imani ♥ ☮
When I think about it, this book was pretty strange. I remember it being something about a boy who makes something that turns him into a plant. Actually, he did it for a school project. And so he's a plant or whatever and somehow he gets into trouble with his teacher and the government. Something about how he can't let the story get out about how to be a plant because it would mess the world up with agriculture and all. Something like that. Anyway, I didn't actually read it-my teacher read it to ...more
Amy Wadsworth
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book had a clever idea. I liked the concept that encouraged children to use their minds and think things through, and I also liked the fact that Allen Brewster--the main character--was able to prove to everyone that he had figured out something they all thought was impossible. It was a quick, easy read. It is dated, however, and the minor characters are very two-dimensional and closed minded. No challenge to the plot. Not particularly interesting.
Suin Kim
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. It is fantasy and I like fantasy ^^ . Anyways, the plot is, " Allen want to go to science fair and his topic is ' Human Photosynthesis ' but, Mrs. Green doesn't agree with it and tell him to do with lipstick . How Allen will do his science fair and could Allen win silver trophy, so make Mrs. Green a great teacher? " ...more
Heather
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Top Secret was a very cute story. It was totally unbelievable, but at the same time taught the lesson that you can do anything you put your mind to, even when others believe you can’t. I read it out loud to my 8 and 10 year old boys and they thought it was funny and enjoyed trying to decide if human photosynthesis just might be a real possibility.
Damien
Jun 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read this book years ago when I was around 10-12 probably... but I remember it being awesome back then. I don't know what it would be like to read right now, but if you are bored and want a quick read, I would recommend it. ...more
Melody
Apr 16, 2013 rated it liked it
I wish something like this was actually possible but I guess we would never know. This is an elementary level book and it introduces anarchist ideas, I wish I would have read this when I was younger.
Mayrocks
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book a lot. it told of a 9-year-old boy that invents human photosynthesis. it's so cool when he actually begins to not need food, live on sunlight, turn green, and generally turn into a human plant! ...more
Rll52013_andrea
Oct 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
I forgot to mention my favorite early sci fi book of all time! This book makes the best read aloud with curricular tie-in possibilities...and it all seems so plausible! The grandpa gives great science take-away advice. Coupled with excellent nonfiction, there are so many possibilities!
Amanda Lee
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
I did not really like this book. It was funny in parts but overall I found it very silly. Nine year old Allen Brewster sets out to find the secret to human photosynthesis and ends up on a wild adventure. If you like Science and government conspiracies, you might like this book.
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John Reynolds Gardiner was an American author and engineer. Born in Los Angeles, California, he earned his master's degree from UCLA. He was a successful engineer before working on his first children's book. Always creative, in his younger years he ran Num Num Novelties, home to such originals as the aquarium tie. He lived in West Germany and Central America, and taught writing workshops around th ...more

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