Reader Reviews: The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin

Reader reviews for The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin (Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins) are starting to roll in!

If you like what you hear about this comic adventure for kids ages 8-12, you can find it on Amazon, IndieBound, and in your local bookstore.

For Those About Mock

“The story of John and Page’s resulting adventures reminded me of Roald Dahl, Daniel Pinkwater, and even the Mr. Toad portions of The Wind in the Willows. (Let’s just say that John doesn’t have much more luck with motorcars than that estimable amphibian.) The supporting cast is made up of highly-entertaining characters; my favorite was Miss Doyle, a sort of middle-aged, reptilian-looking version of Lara Croft.

However, holding the whole thing together are John and Page, two children who come across as eminently authentic and believable. I appreciated the fact that John isn’t some kind of Matilda-level prodigy, but rather a smart kid who still has a lot to learn, and who shows real growth over the course of the book. And I loved the relationship between the siblings — sometimes strained, sometimes frustrated, but always full of genuine affection and loyalty… I’d certainly recommend the novel for anyone who likes a fast-paced, humorous adventure story with heart.”

Sam Eddington

This Kid Reviews Books

“This was a rather interesting book. I want to say it takes place around the early 1900’s-ish, but it’s somewhat confusing. What’s even more confusing is that it is a good type of confusing – it gives the impression that the book could happen anywhere, and maybe even anytime. That was a nice touch.

It is thrilling seeing John’s character develop from a cowardly wimp who is afraid of speaking up for himself into a strong, confident boy with an ingenuitive mind and a powerful voice. The characters he and Page encounter are wacky and lovable. There are illustrations throughout the book as well. I really enjoyed Ms. Teele’s narrative, and her distinct voice, as I read the book – I finished it in a short amount of time – not that it was “easy” but I found the words and story flowed.”


Erik, 14-year-old Book Blogger

Teach Mentor Texts

“When I say that The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin reminds me of Roald Dahl’s stories it’s definitely a major compliment. I was immediately sucked into this book, worried about John and his sister and hoping they would figure out how to stand up to their Great-Aunt Beauregard…but I had no idea the adventure I would get to go on with them.

As a mentor text, the description is amazing! I love it. All of it. The characters come to life. There are so many characters! And yet you get a true sense of each of them. The more I write, the more I marvel at how authors take a character and bring them to life for readers. Even supporting characters can be so full of life. It’s still amazing to me and I’m always looking at examples of how to do this. If you or your students are looking at characters and how to bring them to life, read this book as a mentor text!”

Jen Vincent

Librarian’s Quest

“As soon as you read the first page, you are drawn into the story by the request for a story. Without missing a beat, Elinor Teele draws us willingly into places seemingly familiar but completely unique, describing the communities, residences and other modes of transportation in which our main characters find themselves.  The phrase, a cast of colorful characters, applies with gusto to this narrative. John and Paige find themselves thrust not always by choice but more due to circumstances into the presence of diverse and multi-dimensional people.

John’s thoughts, the conversations between all the characters and the language each uses create highly engaging and often comedic responses in readers.  You will find yourself mentally assigning voice qualities to the characters based upon their personalities.  Boz’s persuasive, embellished observations and suggestions, Great-Aunt Beauregard’s boisterous outbursts, Maria Persimmons quiet, loving words, Leslie’s arrogant assumptions and Miss Doyle’s wise counsel as well as the circus performers requests, insights and advice supply non-stop entertainment, a montage of ingredients in the siblings’ stew of life.”

Margie Myers-Culver


“I was lucky enough to win this book in a giveaway. If I described this book in one word, it would be stupendous! I loved it! I have been looking for a book for my nephew; a book to trigger a life-long love of reading. My search is over! Elinor Teele has created a delightful story, full of adventure and hope.

She has some great characters; some zany, some you love to love, and, some you love to dislike (okay, hate). Some of the verbiage caused me some pause early in the story. Although, as I read further, I realized it worked, it even added something wonderful to this novel story; children building coffins and making up the deceased. Who wouldn’t want to run away and join a circus? What a delightful ending! Some people were born to write. Some people were born to tell stories, Elinor Teele does both masterfully.”

Kathryn Green

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