Spy Camp

336p. S & S. Apr. 2013. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5753-9; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5755-3
Gr 5–7—This companion to Spy School (S & S, 2012) follows 12-year-old Ben as he finishes up his first year of training after being recruited by the CIA, and he now has spy camp to look forward to. Important details from the first book are seamlessly woven into the story. Before Ben even leaves for his wilderness training camp, he discovers an elaborate plot against him. He joins up with Erika, the smartest kid at school, and her bumbling father, the acclaimed agent Alexander Hale, and the three try to figure out how to save what turns out to be not just their lives, but much more. Erika is a strong female character, and the vocabulary throughout is quite sophisticated. However, for a middle-grade book that presents itself as a goofy spy adventure, it borders on having too much realistic violence with kids wielding guns, assassination attempts, hostage situations, and sniper attacks. While there is plenty of violence in children's literature, it's a concern here because the story is set in the real world. That being said, fans of Anthony Horowitz's "Alex Rider" books (Philomel) and kids looking for a thriller will most certainly be drawn to the story.—Kerry Roeder, Professional Children's School, New York City

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