Operating Codes by Nick Manns, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Operating Codes

Operating Codes

2.0 1
by Nick Manns
There is something strange about Sentinel House. From the first night they moved in, Graham, and his older sister Matty sense they are not alone in the house. With his father busy designing a top-secret weapons system, Graham is told to let his suspicions lie. But when the weird phenomena begin-the voices, the mysterious writing appearing on a foggy window-Graham


There is something strange about Sentinel House. From the first night they moved in, Graham, and his older sister Matty sense they are not alone in the house. With his father busy designing a top-secret weapons system, Graham is told to let his suspicions lie. But when the weird phenomena begin-the voices, the mysterious writing appearing on a foggy window-Graham decides to investigate. When his father is charged with a crime he did not commit, Graham's life turns upside down and his close-knit family is threatening to tear apart. Will Graham's family and life ever be the same? And just who is living in the Sentinel House? Part ghost story, part story of a family struggling to stay together, Operating Codes invites readers to consider the operating codes that influence the society in which they live.

Author Biography: Nick Manns was born in England. His father was in the Royal Air Force, and consequently the family traveled the globe from base to base. Today he lives in a creaky, old house with his wife and children in England.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Fifteen-year-old Graham and his little sister, Matty, begin seeing and hearing strange things almost as soon as their family moves into Sentinel House. His father, a computer programmer in the defense industry, brushes the phenomena off as "aural mirages." But when Matty comes up with the name of the ghost, a soldier of the Great War who died some eighty years previous, Graham is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. His research uncovers troubling secrets about Britain's participation in poisonous gas experiments. Graham draws painful parallels between the atrocities of World War I and his father's professional occupation, which involves designing fighter aircraft meant to kill people. Interspersed with the narrative are clinical interviews of Matty and a court-appointed psychologist, lending veracity to the ghostly appearances. Part ghost story, part morality tale, the author's intention is obvious¾to provoke readers to think about ethical questions of war that are as relevant today as they were at the beginning of the century. 2001, Little, Brown, $15.95. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Christopher Moning
Set in England, this is a combination of a ghost story and a criminal investigation; it is also a story about pacifism. Graham is 15 and his little sister Matty is 5 when they and their parents move into an old home near an abandoned military base. Their father is a computer expert working on software that is desired by defense organizations. There is a strange neighbor, Mr. Thomas, who is woven into the plot in a way that suggests a possible non-ghostly interpretation. Strange events occur, witnessed mainly by Matty, who is fixated on her Sunday School lesson that Jesus says to love your enemy... so even little Matty argues about war with her father. Perhaps this is why Matty is aware of a man named Paul Whitaker whose presence is felt in and around their house. When Graham does some research about the military base and the weapons of destruction, such as nerve gas associated with the base, he learns about Paul Whitaker, who was executed as a traitor for being a conscientious objector in 1918. Paul had been held prisoner before his execution by firing squad in the basement of their home. Much of the plot surrounds transcripts of interviews and proceedings in the trial of Matty and Graham's father. The crucial software that would enable a new generation of weapons has been compromised and the children's father is on trial for treason. Is it possible that the ghost of Paul Whitaker, still fighting against war, has made this software ineffectual? Graham is the main character for the YA reader to identify with. He is smart and curious, and his research to find out about the history of their house, the military base, the identity of Whitaker, and so forth will keep most readers intrigued.Category: Hardcover Fiction. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2000, Little, Brown, 182p., Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; KLIATT
In this unevenly told tale of ghosts and government secrets, a British teen and his young sister are convinced that their new home—a former military base—is haunted by ghosts of exmilitary men who are angry with their father for working on top-secret war weapons. Graham, an intelligent fifteen year old, witnesses such eerie events as disembodied voices, hazy visions of soldiers, and words written on fogged glass. He then discovers possessions belonging to a soldier who was jailed in the basement of their home during World War I and was executed for treason. Among the items is a letter describing the secret use of mustard gas against Britain's own soldiers. This discovery makes Graham question the work his own father does for the government—specifically, writing operating codes for a top-secret stealth plane to be used in combat. When someone mysteriously breaks into the house and sends the operating codes out to the Internet, Graham's father is arrested on charges of treason. Although the premise is interesting enough, there is too much talk and not enough action, slowing the pace of the book and possibly turning off the reader. There is much information in this book—history, technology, and more—that is better suited for higher-level readers; however, the ghostly plot and the young characters will attract the junior high crowd. The narrative also jumps around, often jarringly, which might confuse younger or weaker readers. This British import will be suitable only where there is a high interest in ghost stories or techno-thrillers. VOYA CODES: 2Q 2P M J (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in thesubject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001 (orig. 2000), Little Brown, 192p, $15.95. Ages 11 to 15. Reviewer: Rebecca Vnuk SOURCE: VOYA, February 2002 (Vol. 24, No.6)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-This tightly woven, well-structured tale has all the elements of a good ghost story, but also touches upon one family's struggle to stay together in the face of adversity. From the first night that they move into Sentinel House, Graham and his five-year-old sister, Matty, sense a ghostly presence. Their father, a computer-software expert for the government, is busy designing a state-of-the-art weapons system and has little time to listen to their tales of ghosts. When the operating codes for the top-secret project become public on the Internet, their father is arrested for espionage. It is only after Matty gives sensational testimony at his trial that the terrible history of Sentinel House comes to light. Graham is a resourceful, intelligent central character. In his research about his house and its secrets, he discovers that the area was a testing ground for poisonous gas during World War I, and that the young soldier who made public the camp's activities was found guilty of treason and shot by his comrades. The author competently juxtaposes the allegations of espionage against the father with that of the soldier's charges of treason. The compelling story maintains a heightened sense of suspense throughout and concludes with a climactic court scene and the soldier's ghost being put to rest. A guaranteed page-turner for thoughtful readers who are looking for something beyond your average ghost story.-Janet Gillen, Great Neck Public Library, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st U.S. Edition
Product dimensions:
5.74(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.72(d)
Age Range:
10 Years

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