The series keeps cruising along…though iffy casting may be an early sign that it’s losing steam.

SPY SCHOOL AT SEA

From the Spy School series , Vol. 9

In a new caper, the Spy School team thwarts a fiendish scheme on the high seas.

A fresh chance to catch up to world-class gourmand and perennial foe Murray Hill plants dogged CIA junior agent Ben Ripley and associates—including markedly more competent classmate Erica Hale and her equally able mom, Catherine—aboard the Emperor of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, for a fresh round of ridiculously destructive chases, startling twists, and repeated attempts on the hapless young spy’s life that are somehow always averted in the nick of time. Along with adding a grandfatherly, eco-conscious Costa Rican drug lord to the supporting cast, Gibbs flirts with stereotypes by trotting in, among the few characters who don’t at least present as White, a Chinese teen given to muddling her English idioms, her bling-loving mother, and a chipper shipboard event manager of Australian Indigenous descent. Still, the revved-up plot will leave readers as breathless as Ben is in the wake of a final, unexpected turn in his relationship with Erica. Finally, finally nabbing the slobby supervillain (at least for now) as well as saving the lives of hundreds of oblivious, hard-partying onboard tourists must count for something.

The series keeps cruising along…though iffy casting may be an early sign that it’s losing steam. (Thriller. 10-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7943-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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Generous portions of yum for fans of mysteries and mille-feuille.

ALICE FLECK'S RECIPES FOR DISASTER

Mix one shy tween, one unwelcome new woman in her single dad’s life, one Victorian hotel, and one TV cook-off prone to mysterious failures. Shake and bake.

Ever since the fifth grade calf’s foot jelly incident, Alice has kept her love for cookery on the down low—but all bets are off after she learns that Hana, her food historian dad’s girlfriend, has signed him up for a weeklong reality cooking competition ominously christened Culinary Combat. Events conspire to keep Alice on the hop too, as the challenge of facing the show’s caustic, terrifying judge while preparing dishes like Victoria sponge cake and charlotte russe on camera—at first as her dad’s sous-chef, then alone after he’s eliminated for alleged misbehavior—is complicated by a string of malfunctioning appliances and other odd kitchen mishaps…not to mention her own tangled feelings about Hana, who introduces her to the intriguing world of Japanese desserts and is actually pretty cool in other ways. Spooning new friends with surprising talents, savvy detective work (it turns out the show does have a saboteur), and mouthwatering foodie talk (if no actual recipes) into this culinary caper, Delaney dishes up a savory tale that tests her young cuisinier—in the face of change as much as in the kitchen—on the way to a flying finish. Alice and her dad present White; Hana has some Japanese ancestry; and there is diversity in the supporting cast.

Generous portions of yum for fans of mysteries and mille-feuille. (Mystery. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6927-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Puffin/Penguin Random House Canada

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

THE CONSPIRACY

From the Plot to Kill Hitler series , Vol. 1

Near the end of World War II, two kids join their parents in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler.

Max, 12, lives with his parents and his older sister in a Berlin that’s under constant air bombardment. During one such raid, a mortally wounded man stumbles into the white German family’s home and gasps out his last wish: “The Führer must die.” With this nighttime visitation, Max and Gerta discover their parents have been part of a resistance cell, and the siblings want in. They meet a colorful band of upper-class types who seem almost too whimsical to be serious. Despite her charming levity, Prussian aristocrat and cell leader Frau Becker is grimly aware of the stakes. She enlists Max and Gerta as couriers who sneak forged identification papers to Jews in hiding. Max and Gerta are merely (and realistically) cogs in the adults’ plans, but there’s plenty of room for their own heroism. They escape capture, rescue each other when they’re caught out during an air raid, and willingly put themselves repeatedly at risk to catch a spy. The fictional plotters—based on a mix of several real anti-Hitler resistance cells—are portrayed with a genuine humor, giving them the space to feel alive even in such a slim volume.

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35902-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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