Thursday, October 15, 2020

Spy School Revolution (Spy School #8) and Goodbye, Mr. Terupt

Check out this great spreadsheet of #MGLit debut authors over at Middle Grade Book Village! It's so hard to keep on top of everything that is being published, and this is a great resource!

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Gibbs, Stuart. Spy School Revolution (Spy School #8)
October 6th 2020 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

First of all, this had me snerking audibly by the end of the first page, which was good. Eight books (and this is not the last) in a series is a bit of a strain on the system for a school library, but darn it, Gibbs never fails to amuse me even as I am contemplating how on earth I'm going to wedge in yet another book to the "G"s without moving a ton of stuff. So trust me: buy this, read this, and look forward to the next one!

After his tussle in London taking down SPYDER, Ben Ripley's parents have finally had to be told about his involvement in spy missions, because they are now the targets of assassination attempts. They are being put into the Witness Protection Program, and are surprisingly equanimous about it, asking if they could move to Florida and maybe get jobs dealing with pets or run an ice cream store. Ben is being recruited by Agent Nora Taco (Don't make fun of her name. Just don't. ) for a division that will identify and deal with double agents. Of course, things are never calm for long, and soon a conference room where they are supposed to have been meeting is hit by a rocket... fired by Erica Hale. Ben knows that Erica is too smart to do something like this and be caught, so he suspects she is being coerced and wants to be found out. Sure enough, she leaves her message sending teddy bear, FooFoo BinkyBum in his room with a cryptic message. Ben figures it out, meets her, and finds out that she has been forced by an evil society, the Croatoan, to attack the CIA. This society was started by the Spanish as a way to fight the British influence in the US, but of course has not gained much traction. Zoe thinks that Erica must be working for this new evil group, and tries to take Erica down. Soon, Ben, Mike and Erica's mother Catherine are sneaking into Mt. Vernon to find letters from George Washington and careening through the nearby neighborhood's in one of the estate's carriages. Ben manages to crack the code and start them on a hunt for Croatoan's evil lair, where they hope to uncover their newest evil plan. As always, there's a lot of action, close calls with plastic explosives being carted about in people's shorts, ever shifting allegiances and plans, and a day that absolutely must be saved.
Strengths: The writing in these is just so funny, and Gibbs has a great knack for pacing as well. We get a little bit of almost romance thrown in, and the traveling around D.C. (in this case) is fascinating. Ben's parents have such a good sense of humor, the Hales are always intriguing (although we don't get quite as much of them in this book), and the kids at the school are always ready with a quip, knowledge of code, or some explosives. The Croatoan are a good enemy to put in place now that SPYDER has been vanquished, although I'm wondering who will be the adversary in the next book, which may take us to Nicaragua, where Murray Hill has been hanging out.
Weaknesses: Gibbs has already proven that he can write a lot of different characters and settings, so I'm fine if the next book wraps up this series and he moves on to writing other, shorter series. That said, I may have read all 29 of the Lilian Jackson Braun Cat Who mysteries back in the day.
What I really think: Trixie! Erica has a sister. I want to know so much more, which means I (as well as my students) need book nine right now.

Buyea, Rob. Goodbye, Mr. Terupt (#4)
October 13th 2020 by Delacorte Press
E ARC provided by Netgalley

8th grade is a challenge for everyone, and Mr. Terupt's students are sad that he is staying in 7th grade, although the seven of them do have him for advisory period. The Terupts also occasionally have all of the children babysit Hope, although the boys are less than helpful in changing diapers. The character development and the story lines we have seen previously are all maintained; Lexie is still a bit of a drama queen but genuinely concerned about her and her mother's health; Luke is still scientifically inclined but does enjoy spending time with Danielle on her family's farm; Danielle struggles with her diabetes; Peter acts out. The most interesting story is Jeffrey. An older wrestler tells him that he has a chance to wrestle at the high school level, but only if he cuts weight to get to 113 from 120, and this negatively affects his health. This is a huge issue in school age wrestling, and I would still love Buyea to write an entire book about the sport. A spoiler here, but one that should be welcome: Mr. Terupt is NOT dying; he and his wife are moving, so the students create a time capsule and a bucket list to deal with this separation, even though they would be going to high school anyway.

This is a fine conclusion (although we can't be sure) to the series that includes Because of Mr. Terupt (2011), Mr. Terupt Falls Again (2012), and Saving Mr. Terupt (2015). I've just never been able to buy in to the idea that the students are that connected to Mr. Terupt. I'll probably purchase in order to complete the series, but I would still prefer stand alones from Mr. Buyea, preferably about wrestling! I think school stories are more popular with elementary readers, although there is an attempt to address the interest in romances in this installment.

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