Thirty-six hours and one intercepted phone call from the president of the United States is all it takes for 12-year-old Clayton Stone to go from an average, lacrosse-playing seventh-grader to secret agent for the U.S. Special Service.
It turns out that his knack for covert operations shouldn’t come as a total surprise; as Clayton quickly discovers, it’s in his blood. Not only were his parents and grandfather Special Service agents, but his grandmother, as Clayton is shocked to discover, once headed up the entire organization. Now, with a senator’s wife and daughter kidnapped by the infamous “mall napper,” the president has reinstated her as chief and asked Clayton to help them crack the case. Juggling his top-secret life against school and athletic responsibilities isn’t easy, but it provides plenty of opportunities for action and fun. Though the mall-napper storyline is a bit thin, there are plenty of cool gadgets and action-packed predicaments to keep middle-grade readers entertained. However, what really makes this take on the kid-turned-spy story special is that it has a heart. At its core, this is a story about family. For Clayton, this means both the family he was born into and also his family of teammates.
Clayton’s endearing senses of loyalty to and responsibility for both family and friends is the undercurrent that gives this story depth and sets it apart from the rest. (Thriller. 8-12)