Friday, July 28, 2017

Guy Friday- Jack and Max Stalwart

There is a fun, fourteen book series about Secret Agent Jack Stalwart which starts with The Escape of the Deadly Dinosaur: USA (2004) by Elizabeth Singer Hunt. These are short, easy-to-read books with a decent number of illustrations. In the final book, Jack has to find his younger brother, Max, and this sets up the scenario for the new series, Secret Agents Jack and Max Stalwart.

Thank you to Claire at Little Bird Publicity for bringing these to my attention and providing me with E ARCs. 

Hunt, Elizabeth Singer. The Battle for the Emerald Buddha: Thailand 
(Secret Agents Jack and Max Stalwart: Book 1)
Published July 25th 2017 by Weinstein Books

In Thailand, three gangsters (Grill, Tech and Shark) are preparing to steal the emerald Buddha for an evil art collector who has promised them that if they get it for him, he will give them three tickets to America and $300,000. Luckily, just after they steal it from the temple, Jack and Max arrive on a sightseeing trip with their parents. Realizing it's gone, they spring in to action, using all of the gadgets and code breaking skills they have learned from the Global Protection Force. Of course, they are supposed to be taking a break from that, but when there are transgressors who need to be brought to justice, who has time for vacation! The boys manage to rout the gang and recover the treasure all without their parents realizing what they are doing.

33608904 Hunt, Elizabeth Singer. The Adventure in the Amazon: Brazil
(Secret Agents Jack and Max Stalwart: Book 1)
Published July 25th 2017 by Weinstein Books

After losing the geography bee when answering a question about Brazil, the boys get a mission from the Global Protection Force. One of their agents in the rain forest hasn't been heard from, so while the boys are supposed to be studying, they are whisked off with GPF technology to the wilds of Brazil. Luckily, they know all about the climate and indigenous animals. When they come across Pedro the Pistol, who has a gang of men looking for gold, they suspect that the missing agent is in his hands. They find out they are correct after Pedro captures them as well, and threatens to put all three agents on a boat going down the river. Luckily, Max and Jack are able to use their gadgets and know-how and save the day, getting home before their parents even know they are gone.

These books remind me very strongly of the Magic Treehouse Books-- lots of adventures, fun facts about different nonfiction topics, very cool gadgets that we should all have as a matter of course. They are a bit formulaic (there's always going to be a bad guy that causes Jack and Max to head off on an adventure to save the day), but that's something that appeals very strongly to the target demographic, which is 1st-4th graders. Piles of these books make great summer reading, and when paired with The Secret Agent Training Manual, you know that readers will be occupied making disappearing ink out of all of your lemon juice and leaving lots of coded notes about what they want for supper. Great fun!

Hunt, Elizabeth Singer. The Secret Agent Training Manual: How to Make and Break Top Secret Messages: A Companion to the Secret Agents Jack and Max Stalwart Series
 July 25th 2017 by Weinstein Books

I have to admit that I didn't read this very carefully-- the image-rich E ARC loaded rather slowly, and I'm not as interested in code as I was as a nine-year-old. (Did I make my own secret language? Check. Leave notes under rocks in that language for my brother? Check.) I was impressed that there was a nice overview of the history and use of codes, and then a wide variety of different ones. I imagine that all of these might end up in Jack and Max books. The Caesar code is in The Battle for the Emerald Buddha: Thailand, although I don't remember one in the second book. This book is a great motivator for children to stretch their brains over the summer and write notes in a variety of secret codes. This is a skill that is always good to have!

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