Howie Bowles, Secret Agent

Overview

How do you make new friends?

It's hard for Howie Bowles when his family moves to a new town -- what if the kids at school don't like him? "Just be yourself" is his mother's advice, but wouldn't it be easier to be somebody else? Howie doesn't plan on making his classmates believe that he's actually a secret agent named Agent Bean Burger, but somehow that's what happens. Soon everyone is interested in him because he's a secret agent, and it's sort of like having friends, except ...

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Overview

How do you make new friends?

It's hard for Howie Bowles when his family moves to a new town -- what if the kids at school don't like him? "Just be yourself" is his mother's advice, but wouldn't it be easier to be somebody else? Howie doesn't plan on making his classmates believe that he's actually a secret agent named Agent Bean Burger, but somehow that's what happens. Soon everyone is interested in him because he's a secret agent, and it's sort of like having friends, except that the other kids still don't know anything about Howie. And then a case comes along that he has to solve: someone's been spitting out their gum in the drinking fountains at school. In short chapters with snappy dialogue and winning pictures, this is a fast-paced story of a likable, worrisome boy -- a boy who finally does solve the case (it's the principal!), so Agent Bean Burger can take a vacation and Howie Bowles can be himself.

Third-grader Howie Bowles copes with having to change schools twice in one year by pretending to be a secret agent named Agent Bean Burger.

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Editorial Reviews

Horn Book Magazine
His family has just moved, so Howie must enter his third-grade classroom as the new kid. Nervous about making friends, he adopts the persona of Secret Agent Bean burger and begins investigating crimes. His kind-hearted teacher assigns him a case to discover who is leaving chewing gum in the water fountains---which lends credibility to his identity. Howie gathers clues, wins admirers, and even solves the case (the principal did it!) but soon finds he's more at ease as himself---Howie Bowles, baseball fan and regular guy. This light, readable story of new kid nerves nimbly traces Howie's worries as well as the hopeful beginnings of new friendships. Amiable illustrations help convey the emotional drama of a scene and add visual appeal to the short chapters.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Banks's (And If the Moon Could Talk; Spider Spider) slim chapter book introduces eight-year-old Howie, who feels nervous about starting a new school in the middle of his third-grade year. When, after the first day, the boy has trouble making friends, he adopts the identity of Secret Agent Bean Burger (so named for his favorite dinner menu) and things improve. The next day, after his mother drops off his lunch bag with his new name displayed, Secret Agent Bean Burger is summoned over the P.A. system to pick up his lunch, convincing his classmates that he is on assignment. Howie's first big case is to discover who is leaving wads of green bubble gum on the water fountain. Making the solution especially sticky--and far-fetched--is the sleuth's discovery that the culprit is the principal. Youngsters who have recently made or are facing a move to a new school may well identify with Howie's anxieties, yet his unlikely coping mechanism isn't apt to provide much comfort. Ages 6-8. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Kathleen Orosz
Howie Bowles has to make new friends AGAIN! Boys and girls alike will easily identify with the worries of facing a classroom of strangers. How eight-year-old Howie handles this is creative and entertaining. After having a dream about his favorite magazine adventure hero, Detective Dare Brain, he decides that adopting a new identity might just win friends he doesn't feel he can impress as Howie Bowles. His new identity is Detective Bean Burger (named after his favorite dinner)! The book holds the reader's attention by focusing on the case Howie is trying to solve--who keeps putting the chewed gum under the water fountain at school? As Detective Bean Burger the secret agent, he works to solve this case and develops friendships along the way. As children and adults alike accept him as Agent Bean Burger, he notices that he is liked for other qualities that have more to do with Howie Bowles than any special identity. Maybe his mom's advice the first day of school to "just be yourself" was right all along. But the fun of being Agent Bean Burger for just a while didn't hurt either! The black-and-white illustrations contribute to the adventurous mood of the story as well as reinforce the lessons learned about making new friends.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374335007
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 10/12/1999
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 96
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 310L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate Banks's other children's books include And If the Moon Could Talk. She lives in Monaco.

Isaac Millman is also the author/illustrator of Moses Goes to a Concert. He lives in New York City.

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