Written by Lauren Child
At times a little silly, this exciting new installment in the Ruby Redfort series will hold the attention of fifth graders and older by keeping them guessing until the end. The reader will be breaking codes right along with Ruby and possibly even trying out the martial arts described.
Thirteen-year-old Ruby is such a natural code breaker that she works for a super-secret organization dedicated to protecting the world. As is the case with most teenage secret agents, the badddies have no problem finding her and complicating her life. Set in fictional Twinford – resembling a cross between New York City and Los Angeles – the story follows the celebration of a film star’s career and of the release of her once-lost movie. All the while, people in high rise apartments report break-ins through impossibly high and small windows. Apparently, little of note is missing after the break-ins. When a seemingly blank business card is discovered at one of the scenes, Ruby is on the case. Of course, Ruby is constantly in trouble at work, with her parents, and with her loyal friend. Eventually, Ruby finds a connection between the film star and the break-ins. Meanwhile, she helps her friend solve a problem and foils the baddies.
The length of the book is daunting, but there’s a lot going on here, making it well worth the read.
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- Title: Ruby Redfort: Feel the Fear
- Author: Lauren Child
- Published: Candlewick Press, 2016
- Reviewer: Sue Poduska
- Format: Hardcover, 528 pages
- Grade Level: 5 up
- Genre: Adventure, Espionage, Codes
- ISBN: 978-0-7636-5470-2
Written by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith
Illustrated by Scott Garrett
With a better-than-MacGyver talent, Nick and Tesla build gadgets that get them into and out of trouble with regularity. In this newest installment in the series, the twins face evil mastermind Bob and his group of flunkies, including two ninja-style grannies. The parents of twelve-year-old Nikola Copernicus and Tesla Nightingale Holt have been kidnapped, and they’re staying with their absentminded Uncle Newt. Government agents have told the kids nothing other than lies about their parents. So they set out to find out what’s really going on. Along the way, they build Uncle Newt’s Guaranteed-Not-to-Explode Frankfurter Heater-Upper, which they use to accidentally fry the pendants meant to keep track of them; Nick and Tesla and Uncle Newt’s Ping-Pong Ball Signal Cannon; Tesla’s (and Nick and Uncle Newt’s but mostly Tesla’s) Solar Spy Birdhouse; and Nick and Tesla’s Solar-Powered Long-Range Rover. Bob wants to use the Holts’ research into solar power to kill the President and take over the world, but the kids have other plans.
The gadgets in the book require adult supervision and some special equipment, so it’s best to read this with a teacher or parent. But the directions and diagrams are explicit and easy to follow. Kids and adults will learn a lot.
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- Title: Nick and Tesla’s Solar-Powered Showdown: A Mystery with Sun-Powered Gadgets You Can Build Yourself
- Author: Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith
- Illustrator: by Scott Garrett
- Published: Quirk Productions, May 10, 2016
- Reviewer: Sue Poduska
- Format: Hardcover, 264 pages
- Grade Level: 4 to 7
- Genre: Fiction, science, humor
- ISBN: 978-1-59474-866-0