Bravo, Mr. Pearson! I've waited for this author (The Kingdom Keepers, Peter and the Starcatchers) to turn his talents to young adult spy novels, and he has with Steel Trapp: The Challenge.
Steven "Steel" Trapp has science skills, a dog named Cairo, and a photographic memory. On his way to the National Science Challenge in D.C., he sees a woman leave a briefcase on the train. When he tries to return it, she denies it is hers, and Steel heads into an adventure filled with clues, adventure, and danger.
While Steel and the other characters were engaging enough, and the plot woven quite skillfully (it fell into place almost too nicely, but was so clever I didn't mind-- even worked one of the science projects into the crime!), it was the writing that I loved about this book. The book is 78 chapters long, but some chapters are less than a page. Almost every chapter ends with some action or question that made me think "Okay, dinner can wait-- what happens now?" This gave the book a real edge-of-the-seat excitement that students really like. Number one student complaint about books? Nothing happens. Well, not in this book. This is no doubt the start of a series, and this book will never make it back to the shelves. I think it's more appealing than Pearson's other two YA efforts, even if there are a few cliches.
By the way, Beany and I had a very nice visit. Her father was gone for the summer, so I helped her with the boarders that she took in so she could earn money to fix up the basement into a rumpus room. Her brother Johnny is so cute, but he was pretty busy with his research. (Read The More The Merrier.)