by Lauren child
Published by Candlewick Press
I was such a fan of Lauren Child's picturebooks, I decided to check out her new middle-grade series as well.
Child does an excellent job with witty characters and high action, with plenty of danger too. Ruby Redfort is a modern child-genius, turned spy. It's not an original storyline, but Child's parody offers plenty of adventure to the young reader. This is exactly the type of book I would have loved when I was younger.
This dramatic story involves young Ruby caught right in the middle of a heist with some of the most deadly villains. With the help of her new butler, Hitch, and her best friend Clancy Crew, Ruby participates in a thrilling case to crack the right codes (without much time) and catch the bad guy before something terrible happens.
Ruby and her friends are your typical American kids. They joke and play normally, except in Ruby's case, she works part time as a child detective as well. They even speak like normal kids. The dialogue in this novel speaks to its young audience, yet doesn't date itself with any slang. It's really a fun read.
While I enjoyed this book, I have such a hard time finding much to say about it. It wasn't exactly a page-turner, but I still got through all 383 pages quite quickly. There's a little bit of attitude and adventure on each page. The whole book rings true to many of the detective novels I read as a kid; Ruby is a rich prodigy, no one believes her because she's just a kid, her parents are too dumb to realize what's even going on, she gets herself into trouble, she gets herself out of trouble, and bammo! -- the case is solved in the nick of time. Despite this being another detective tale, Child's voice really shines through. Ruby's inner dialogue is often quite humorous, and the exchanges she has with other people - Clancy, Hitch, other Spectrum agents - are equally funny. Also, Ruby's rules offer wisdom to any future crime-solver.
The book involves some puzzle-solving and may encourage readers to engage with the text and crack codes like the heroine, Ruby Redfort. The plot alternates between crime-solving, puzzles, and action. While it's a longer read for middle grade readers, it isn't boring. Here is a book I would share with my siblings, read along with my niece or recommend to the detective-novel-lover. Lauren Child remains a favored author.
I give this book four out of five foxes