In this middle-grade novel, Chad Sparks is a normal 12-year-old boy living in a small town in Oregon. On a whim, he tries out as an extra in a Hollywood martial arts extravaganza, Six Ninjas Meet the Sponge, and to his surprise, he’s hired, not as an extra, but for a major part in the picture. Before you can say “Macaulay Culkin,” Chad is whisked off to Los Angeles, where he meets his co-stars and prepares for his role. Once shooting actually gets underway, Chad quickly finds that he has a lot to learn about being in the movies, such as not picking your nose when the camera is rolling. Chad, a quick study, has to contend with a jealous stunt double, a demanding star and a young co-star on whom he has a crush. The stakes spike when Chad accidentally discovers that mystery man Walter Buzzard is hatching a plot to sabotage the studio. As a character, Chad is a boy any kid would want to have as a friend. He is hardworking and resourceful. He gets himself into trouble but, just as quickly, gets himself out of it. And through him, the reader learns what goes into the making of a major motion picture, complete with navigating the warring egos of those involved with the production. Too bad that the author couldn’t make this story a little more dramatic or Chad’s plan to save the studio a little more believable.
This slender novel about the making of a Hollywood movie seems like it’s over before it really has the chance to get going.