Kirkus Starred Review ☆ “A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.” Available at your local bookstore and online via Amazon, IndieBound, and HarperCollins.

The Mechanical Mind of John CogginQUICK FACTS

Roald Dahl meets The Penderwicks in this quirky, humorous, whimsical, and heartwarming middle grade debut about two siblings who run away from home to escape working in the family coffin business. A great find for budding engineers (and STEM-minded teachers).


“Remember, bleakness builds character!”

A thwarted inventor, John Coggin knows there is no time to waste. His horrible Great Aunt Beauregard is ready to put his younger sister, Page, to work in the family coffin business. If they don’t escape now, they’ll be trapped for the rest of their lives.

Accompanied by an accident-prone acrobat named Boz, John and Page embark on a series of improbable adventures. Marvels of engineering are created and destroyed. Fireworks, chocolate cake, and exploding chicken poo mix with battles, blood, and heartbreak.

When Great Aunt Beauregard finally gets her hands on Page, it will take all of John’s wits and imagination (and a little help from Boz) to save his sister from a fate worse than death.


ben-whitehouse-illustrator-chicken3“Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures.” Kirkus (Starred Review)

“Adventures, high stakes, and risks propel this debut novel forward at a breakneck pace. Eccentric characters, mean guardians, and improbable situations, many involving poop, will appeal to middle-grade readers.” Booklist

“A charming fantasy/adventure to add to larger middle grade collections.” School Library Journal

“John’s sharp brain and fierce love for his sister make him a memorable protagonist, and readers will be rooting for him even when he messes up multiple times. Surrounding him are an excellent mix of bumblers, villains, tricksters, and pure-as-gold good people who get enough attention to make them feel real on the page but don’t take away from the core duo of Page and John. Lovers of pastiche will find this a worthy romp from start to finish.” Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books


ben-whitehouse-illustrator-chicken1Jordan Brown at Walden Pond Press has acquired North American rights to this book and a second. Walden Pond Press is a collaboration between HarperCollins and Walden Media to create the next generation of middle grade classics.

Steven Chudney at The Chudney Agency brokered the deal.


Rizzoli has acquired the Italian rights; Lora Fountain & Associates handled the deal on behalf of The Chudney Agency.