Wildavsky, Rachel. The Secret of Rover.
Katie and David's scientist parents struggled to support the family until they came up with a secret invention, Rover, that they sold to the government. The family moves into a nicer house in a better neighborhood and decide to adopt a baby from Katkajan. While there parents are in that country getting Theo, their new baby sister, Katie and David are left with Trixie, a nanny. Things quickly turn bad-- their parents disappear, and Trixie fills the house with eveil Katkajanians before she takes the children to their old house and locks them in. Knowing their old house is overrun with rats, the children decide to escape and travel north to find their reclusive uncle Alex.
Without money or food, the children decide to stow away in trucks. At one point, they are caught by some of the Katkajanians. Instead of letting the police take them, they play along, pretending that they have run away and apologizing to their "parents". They then excape, make it to their uncle's, and try to help the government find their parents, using the invention that caused the Katkajanians to kidnap them-- Rover, which can find people through a variety of means. Will they manage to get their parents and their new baby sister home safely?
Strengths: This had very good descriptions of what it would be like to have to escape and travel across the country. I liked the scene where the children have to pretend that the Katkajanians are their parents, because it shows how hard it is to do what you know has to be done even though it isn't the safest or easiest thing to so. The plot was easy to remember and moves quickly.
Weaknesses: The tone at the beginning was slightly distanced, and I had some trouble getting into the story. Some of the story felt a little far fetched to me, but at the end of the school year I had a conversation with some students who said they liked books that COULD happen even if the events described were veyr unlikely. This would fall into that category, and since I always need mysteries, I will put this on my list to purchase.