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Workshop of Wonders

Now, Leonora’s bedroom/totally-secret-laboratory/workshop (KEEP OUT!) was at the top of an old, disused lighthouse. The lighthouse was on Crabby Island and Crabby Island was slap bang in the middle of absolutely flipping nowhere.

To the north – there was sea. To the east – there was sea. To the south – there was jungle. Sorry, not jungle, more sea. To the west – well, you get the picture. It was a tiny, forgotten sort of place. But it had been home to Leonora, Uncle Luther, their housekeeper, Mildred, and Leonora’s pet otter, Twitchy Nibbles, for almost all her nine years.

Leonora watched her uncle’s boat finally disappear over the blank horizon. Her heart thudded in the silence. Pea brain? Silly little mess? I’ll show you, she thought.

She snapped the window shut and checked the homemade cuckoo clock on her bedside table. It read 7:23 a.m. and five tweets precisely. Thanks to Uncle Luther’s unexpected visit, the day already felt like it was bent out of shape. But he was gone. She had the next few hours, days – who knew how long before he’d come creeping back?

Warm morning sunshine flooded in, sparkling off bits of scrap metal, coiled wires, jars of silvery liquids, little mechanical gadgets and electric circuit boards strewn all around – making her workshop look like the most glorious treasure trove (or like a catastrophic explosion in a junkyard, depending on your point of view).

Leonora waded through the sea of cables to her desk and grabbed a bottle of special formula hair oil. She smoothed a few handfuls through her curls to repair some of the damage from her earlier experiment. Then she picked up a lump of chalk and began scribbling on the blackboard beside her:

• FLAMEPROOF SHAMPOO

• Musical socks

• Bee sting reverser

• Rocket pyjamas

• Magnetic cheese

• Original space/time disruptor

She paused, rubbed her forehead with her wrist. What to work on first today? Her brain often felt like a wonky Catherine wheel, ideas flying like sparks in all directions. And there was never enough time to build everything she wanted to. She also had chores to do – making her bed, washing up, re-engineering the lighthouse generator to run off electric eels. Just normal, everyday stuff. Stuff that could maybe wait until later...

Leonora reviewed the last item on the board. She smiled to herself and pulled a key on a string from around her neck. Then she unlocked the top drawer of her desk. Inside was a box containing two contraptions. She took out the larger one. There it was: her most secret, most astonishing invention yet – the Switcheroo! She carried this ingenious object to her workbench. Then she pulled on ultra-magnifying spectacles and set to work.

An illustration by Gladys Jose from Leonora Bolt: Secret Inventor of the main character Leonora fixing her invention, the Switcheroo. Leonora is a black character with curly hair and is wearing glasses and dungarees whilst she works

Illustration: Gladys Jose | Leonora Bolt: Secret Inventor

Inside the sleek metal case was a tiny but unbelievably powerful supercomputer. It could teleport a trillion, trillion, trillion (blinking loads of) molecules across time and space at the touch of a button. It could make objects swap places with one another! At least, that was the plan.

As Leonora tinkered with its microprocessors and single-handedly reinvented the laws of physics, she felt excitement bubbling inside her. She’d found a way to scan everyday items and turn them into data, then beam that data between two locations using satellites and quantum computing. Not so hopeless after all. One day she’d use it to leave the island and see the wide world beyond. That’s why Uncle Luther could never, ever know about it. Leonora had to ensure it was a total, utter, cast-iron secret.

But secrets are slippery things that have a way of being discovered. Unbeknownst to Leonora, Uncle Luther already knew about her extraordinary machine. He’d been spying on her and waiting for her to finish. And worse than that, he had plans for it. Terrible plans. The kind of plans that if Leonora had any inkling, she’d smash the Switcheroo to bits.

Just at that moment, a sound like weasels doing bad karaoke pierced the morning silence. It was Mildred calling her from far below.

LEEEEOOOOO – come and gets breakfast, me little sugarplum!’

Leonora’s stomach growled. She carefully returned her Switcheroo to its hiding place. Then she lifted a snoozing Twitchy off his cushion, grabbed her rucksack and leaped headlong out of the nearest window.

  • Leonora Bolt: Secret Inventor

    Leonora Bolt: Secret Inventor

  • 'Fizzing with fun, friendship and fabulous inventions!' - Maria Kuzniar

    WARNING: EPIC INVENTIONS AND SECRET SOCIETIES AHEAD . . .

    Leonora Bolt spends her days creating incredible inventions in her TOP SECRET laboratory, under the watchful eye of her terrifying uncle.

    Everything changes one day when a strange boy washes up on an inflatable lobster and reveals that Uncle Luther has been stealing her inventions and selling them on the mainland. Leonora, armed with her most important inventions, must leave Crabby Island for the first time EVER to embark on an unforgettable journey that will test her brainpower to its limits.

    With the help of an otter with a special skilll, a questionable cook and a singing sea captain, can Leonora dream up an invention that will defeat her evil uncle once and for all?

    Violet Baudelaire meets Peanut Jones in this epic STEM-themed adventure about believing in your brainpower - and yourself!

  • Pre-order now

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