Mark Powers (text), Tim Wesson (illus.), Undercover (Spy Toys #3), Bloomsbury, 1 Feb 2018, 224pp., $12.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781408870907
So much fun! I laughed, read parts over and over, and laughed again. Mark Powers keeps the fun rolling.
This series is about a group of toys that have been rejected because they have unusual traits. Dan is a Snugaliffic Cuddlestar teddy bear but he is too strong to play with children; Arabella is a Loadsasmiles Sunshine Rag Doll but she has the personality of a ‘bad tempered rattlesnake’; and Flax is a custom-made police rabbit who was designed to gather secret information but he has a mind of his own and doesn’t play by the rules of his programming. But this doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to offer society! They have been brought together by Auntie Roz at the Department of Secret Affairs as spies to solve tricky problems.
In book 3, Undercover, children cannot reach their true genius potential because they are scoffing chocolate, playing with toys and watching television… or so one villain thinks. As a world famous chocolate factory, toy store and TV station disappear, it is up to the Spy Toys to go undercover. Using Dr Willow’s latest invention, the 3D SwifttoPrint, they disguise themselves as regular students at the Water Shrew Lane Primary School and try to work out who is behind these villainous deeds.
This series has a lot of literary and creative inspiration for students. It features lots of hilarious black and white illustrations by Tim Wesson and ingenious inventions to engross a reluctant reader and get their own creativity churning. Mark Powers’ skilful sentence structures will help readers decipher challenging new words such as ‘pootling’. And teachers will find this series a fun way to introduce readers to onomatopoeia.
Our three spy toys, although defective as toys, are loveable characters we can all relate to as we try to navigate social situations. As an early reader chapter book, this series has achievable reading goals for newly independent readers. If your readers love wacky humour and gross adventure these are the books to offer.
Great for 8yrs+ fans of Josh Lefers’ Hectic Electric series.
Reviewed by Sharon Smith