SPIES INC. by John Keilman


The Adventures of Dash Danger
Age Range: 8 - 12
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This interactive spy caper entices kids to concoct their own detective missions while helping the main character solve a sweet-tasting mystery.

The unnamed fifth-grade narrator of this short, spirited story is entrusted with an assignment—if he knows what’s good for him, says school bully Biff Vermin, he’ll figure out a way to snag the coveted but top-secret recipe of the cafeteria’s cupcake frosting. But first he must pitch a plan to get past the hilariously illustrated keeper of said treats—the Lunch Lady (think hairnet, crooked glasses, 200-pound sacks of flower under both arms, all on a behemoth of a woman with a gargantuan waistline atop toothpick legs). Unsure of where to start, the boy looks for tips in the latest book of his favorite series, The Adventures of Dash Danger (excerpts from the series begin each chapter). Following Dash Danger’s example, he creates an alias, develops a disguise and pencils a blueprint featuring directions on how he’ll sneak into the cafeteria’s kitchen. Although the boy’s strategy backfires, Biff still snags the cupcake recipe, leaving advanced spies to wonder why Biff couldn’t just find it on his own in the first place. Despite a jacket design and some illustrations that look suspiciously derivative of those that populate Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, the book’s black-and-white sketches possess all the cool, classic elements of an Inspector Gadget and Spy vs. Spy hybrid. While the play-by-play of the narrator’s dilemma might wear thin on seasoned snoops, and the 50 pages of lined paper included at the end of the book seem excessive, those glitches don’t matter in the long run. Kids—especially reluctant readers—might be too busy making up their own spy names and drawing themselves in undercover disguises to notice.

Lacking as a total package, but the interactive bits promise hours of undercover fun.

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0982755204
Publisher: Storybuilders
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2012


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