The Code (Spy X #1) by Peter Lerangis
Twins Evie and Andrew are excited for their eleventh birthday which auspiciously falls on November 11th (11 on 11/11). Evie reasons that it couldn’t be luckier. But they haven’t been awake for long when they realize that this birthday is not going to be a good one. Their mother has disappeared, leaving only a vague note.
When they move to a new town (one move in a lifetime full of moves) they don’t have much hope of ever seeing their mother again. But at least there are distractions, like a package from their Uncle Frank, a little old lady who can kick butt and a bully that seriously needs to be kept in check. While they busy themselves trying to solve the small puzzles that keep presenting themselves, Evie and Andrew just might be working their way towards an important discovery about their mother.
This is the first in a series that currently stands at four books. The ending is not very satisfactory, in that it leaves the door wide open for the next in the series. But if I know anything, it’s that kids love reading books in a series. I had to borrow this from the upper elementary library in my district, but I think it would do well with children younger than 11 as well.
Great for: This is an amazingly weapon-free spy book. Most of the focus is on code breaking and there is some opportunity for at home codebreakers to play along. This would be great for a third or fourth grade audience.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – While speculating about why their mother is gone, the kids toy with the idea that their mother ran off with another man.
Profanity – None.
Death, Violence and Gore – A bloody skull mask is used to try to scare Evie. Andrew goes for a bike ride and describes it using a lot of military terms such as “enemy sighted” and “strafed the shoe store” and “dive-bombed the Laundromat”. Andrew got into fights. A bully causes Andrew to crash his bike and his leg gets cut up. A elderly neighbor takes on burglars she finds in her house. Evie speculates that if the burglars saw them that they could be “rubbed out.” When the kids ask their father for more information about their mother’s job, he says “I would tell you, but then I’d have to shoot you.”
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking –
Frightening or Intense Things – Their mother travels a lot for work and her job seems suspicious. They worry about her well-being.