The countdown to Take Down is on! The kiddos are going to be wild with excitement to read this new adventure with the spies-in-training, as they set off for the World STEM championships in exotic Singapore. The team from the Central London Free School are thrilled to be in the finals for the world’s most prestigious STEM competition but when their grandmother, Dame Cordelia Spencer, falls victim to a poison attack, Kensy and Max are not so keen on going ahead with the trip. However, they are persuaded by their parents and friends that not only will they be safer in Singapore but that their obligation to the team is more important than sitting around in a hospital waiting room. Naturally, that proves dead wrong as the twins and their friends become embroiled with an illegal animal smuggling operation, the very dangerous villain who has been pursuing their family and the mystery surrounding their friend Autumn’s missing parents.
Once again Jacqueline Harvey has hit on a winning combination, combining the growing concerns around the illegal trade in exotic species and STEM, which is arguably the hottest topic in education at present, not to mention the reference to the dangerous nerve drug which was the subject of a recent (and huge) political attack. Kensy and Max prove themselves to be increasingly resourceful and creative and the growing emphasis on their friends’ skills and aptitudes, and their developing teamwork, will provide fans with more rich fodder for discussion and engagement. This underlining of family and friends being vital to our overall safety, success and achievements (no matter how talented we may be as individuals) is a valuable point of reflection for readers.
For those who have not had the pleasure of visiting Singapore it is a thoroughly delightful vicarious tourist experience, highlighting the best of the iconic sights and experiences to be found in this amazing city/country. Though the Kid has spent a week there, I’ve only had the brief encounter with a stop-over in the airport, sadly, and would love to see more of this vibrant and beautiful place – maybe one day!
There is never any need to ‘sell’ Jacqueline’s books, but this comes with my highest recommendation for your readers from around Year 4 upwards as the series gets edgier, more exciting and more in-depth with each new volume. Available for pre-order now, so don’t miss out – your kids will be waiting very impatiently for it to hit your shelves!!
Is it any wonder that Jacqueline Harvey’s fans are legion? Her consummate skill in smashing out superlative stories for young ‘uns just continues to enthrall and capture their reading hearts.
Now the sixth instalment in the hugely successful Kensy and Max series takes the thrills even further as the young twin spies undertake a covert mission in the Alps accompanied by their parents and close companions, Fitz and Song.
The nasty Van Leer couple are some of the most unlikeable villains readers will encounter, only outweighed by the pack of really dastardly gun-smugglers who have attached themselves to the Van Leer’s lucrative data-theft enterprise. It’s up to the Spencers to forestall both sets of malefactors and in the picturesque snowy setting of Zermatt this is exactly what they do. There is plenty of action to excite with skillful skiing, stealthy stalking and wild chases on snow-mobiles as the plot unravels, revealing far more than the Pharos family anticipated.
Most unexpectedly the revelations about Soren, the Van Leer’s bullied and repressed son, give rise to a startling development which,completely shock all involved.
Once again Kensy and Max demonstrate their latent talents as spies-in-the-making, often taking the initiative in the whole mission and ably thwarting even the most heinous of criminals.
Jacqueline Harvey’s narratives not only celebrate resourcefulness, quick-thinking and capability but also trust, loyalty and family relationships. Combined with the thrills and spills that accompany the spy business – even for those who are still learning the ropes – this is an unbeatable series with scads of appeal for both boys and girls from around 8 years upwards.
Though they do not need any recommendation from me, as they simply fly off the shelves as soon as they are spotted, they would be top of my list for your middle school kiddos.
Just as life for the intrepid and resilient twins seems to be settling with both their parents and their grandparents restored to the family, the London house habitable again and being back at school with their friends, things start hotting up. Their upcoming first Pharos review is doubtless a tad stressful given there’s no wriggle room for inadequacies and the school play looms large but there’s far more to it than that. They appear to be not only surrounded by deception and mystery but for the first time ever each is keeping a big secret from the other.
As well there is annoyingly inquisitive new student Blair, new Drama teacher/Pharos agent/”world famous actor” Mr Theo Richardson and some missing journalists with which to contend. The twins’ training in stealth, disguise, parkour and coding are all about to become far more necessary than just for the upcoming review!
When it becomes apparent that there is a large-scale operation focused on thefts of valuable pieces and that somehow there’s a connection to both the new Drama teacher and the missing journalists, the Pharos kids are galvanised into action. Given the skills, expertise and native intelligence the twins and their friends are able to apply to a dangerous situation the review could seem an anti-climax.
Once again, readers will revel in the excitement of this series. Each book gets a little edgier with the twins (and their friends) demonstrating real independence, quick thinking, teamwork and bravery.
Jacqueline Harvey has proven over and over her ability to connect with her readers by providing exactly the right adventures that appeal to the middle school kiddos upwards. It’s certainly no wonder that her fan base just continues to grow and that each new book is greeted with such enthusiasm.
Highly recommended for readers from around 9 years upwards.