A secret agent in his living room, telling him to get ready to go to spy school! Ben's biggest dream is about to come true. If he doesn't get maimed or killed during his first day, he might be able to find the mole who's endangering CIA operations from within...
As Alexander Hale said "When you express an interest in the CIA, the CIA becomes interested in you," and the Agency has been keeping close tabs on the 12-year-old for quite a while. Naturally, his parents and classmates have to think that he's at an elite science school in nearby Washington, D.C. - no one can know that he's entering the Academy of Espionage.
Coming in during the middle of the year isn't easy at any school, but Academy class subjects make Ben's transition much harder. Math and science are Ben's gifts, not hand-to-hand combat (he'll need tutoring), covert target shooting (practice, practice, practice), or clandestine surveillance (yep, behind in that, too).
Luckily, Erica has all those skills and is willing to help him improve, although Ben begins to wonder just why he's at the Academy and who dropped out at midterm leaving the spot open for him. Other students aren't a bit friendly, and he realizes that competition for the best CIA assignments in real life begins here inside the Academy.
When bullies Chip and Hauser vanish into thin air during a paintball attack and a bomb found underground exposes a true threat to the Academy, it's time for Ben and Erica to do some extra-credit work. A few glitches might be accidental, but the increasingly serious incidents point to sabotage...which may endanger national security!
Can Ben and Erica discover which of their classmates is a double-agent? Can they convince the adults in charge of the danger? Can Ben survive until his final exams this semester?
Washington D.C. landmarks are supporting characters in this series-starter filled with action, secrets, and math whiz tricks.
Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA – blogging young adult books beyond the bestsellers at http://BooksYALove.com +++++
Clever, comedic, cute, charming, witty, punny, and sensational, Spy School is seriously entertaining and delivers chortling, mad fun. Readers will laugh out loud by the incompetence of the nation's most skilled special agents and roll around the floor aching with side-splitting laughter as a twelve year old boy is able to take down the entire elite team of agents and hide out from surveillance and capture.
Ben Ripley is a "normal" 12-year old middle school boy--he's trying to survive his geeky phase and stay alive another day. On a normal, mundane day, he arrives home to find a CIA spy in his living room. James Bond sauve and debonair look-alike Alexander Hale explains that the CIA wants to hire Ben--they have been watching him for some time. Ben can't believe his luck! How did they find him? --Agent Hale explains that due to his 728 searches of the CIA website, Ben has caught their attention. Hale offers to send Ben to Spy School--all very hush-hush and top secret, of course. Ben's parents think he's off to attend Science Camp.
The moment Ben steps foot onto the grounds of the Academy, bullets start whizzing through the air. Someone's trying to kill him! Then, he's attacked in his dorm room by an armed assassin, but Ben fights him off in the pitch darkness using only his wits and a well-aimed tennis racquet.
The school is covering something up and it's up to Ben to find out what it is before he's hunted down and killed. With the help of Erica Hale (Alexander Hale's daughter), Ben searches for clues and puts himself in danger as a target for someone who trying to kill him and steal the secrets of Pinwheel--a top secret program that Ben is supposed to have invented--someone planted that lie in his files hoping to catch the mole at the Academy.
This gem of a spy story featuring lovable, nerdy kid Ben will amuse tween and teen readers. The mole and the mole's story set up for a sequel quite nicely. Readers will cheer as Ben is able to catch the mole and outsmart the adults, the administration and all the CIA agents.
Some of the funniest lines are when Ben asks Agent Hale if the Department of Education knows that there are test questions on their standardized tests inserted by the CIA. Hale responds, "I doubt it. They don't know much of anything over at Education." When Ben meets Erica, he is speechless by her beauty and describes it by saying,"She even smelled incredible, an intoxicating combination of lilacs and gun-powder." Professor Crandall in defending the CIA quips, "The people who run the CIA might be incompetent, paranoid, and borderline insane, but they're not psychotic."
Chapter titles are dripping with CIA chic, too. Titles include, "Intimidation," "Ninjas," "War," "Surveillance," "Ambush," and "Detonation" to name a few. Highly, highly recommended grades 5-up.This is the funniest book of the year and I predict it will be on many state's recommended lists and Best Books of 2012. No language, no sex, just good old funny spying and espionage. Grade 6 and up 304 pages
Recommended by Pamela Thompson, Librarian, Texas USA Visit her ya novels blog at http://booksbypamelathompson.blogspot.com