Playing with Fire

( 2 )

Overview

Juvenile delinquent and budding pyromaniac Max Segredo belongs in juvie hall. At least, that's what his most recent foster family would tell you. Instead, Max ends up on the doorstep of Merry Sunshine Orphanage-their very heavily guarded doorstep. As he begins to acclimate to his new home, Max learns a few things straightaway: first, cracking a Caesar Cipher isn't as hard as it seems; second, never sass your instructor if she's also holding throwing knives; and third, he may not be an orphan after all. Soon, Max ...

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School for S.P.I.E.S.: Playing with Fire

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Overview

Juvenile delinquent and budding pyromaniac Max Segredo belongs in juvie hall. At least, that's what his most recent foster family would tell you. Instead, Max ends up on the doorstep of Merry Sunshine Orphanage-their very heavily guarded doorstep. As he begins to acclimate to his new home, Max learns a few things straightaway: first, cracking a Caesar Cipher isn't as hard as it seems; second, never sass your instructor if she's also holding throwing knives; and third, he may not be an orphan after all. Soon, Max and the rest of the students are sent on a mission to keep a dangerous weapon out of the hands of LOTUS, an international group bent on world domination. Of course, all Max cares about is finding out more about his father, the man he's now sure is still alive. As the stakes get higher, Max must make some difficult choices, including who to trust, and finally learns the true meaning of family.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Judy Crowder
It is Max Segredo's thirteenth birthday and what a to-do! The book opens with Max and his umpteenth foster family all watching their house burn. And Max is the suspect. It doesn't matter that Max is innocent; off he goes to another foster family. Or does he? Max's case worker will give him one more chance, but not with a family. He finds himself in a group home, specifically the Merry Sunshine Orphanage, run by a multi-language woman who answers the door holding a gun in one hand. What is this place? As Max unpacks his most precious possessions—a framed picture of his late Thai mother (his father was "some white guy."), a black lucky stone and a gold lighter that, somehow, never gets confiscated—he figures he's seen it all and is ready for anything. But Merry Sunshine isn't your typical orphanage. It's not your typical anything! Max finds himself attending morning warm-ups, a sort of Phys. Ed. game in which the object is not to get hit. Or hurt. Other classes include lock picking, code breaking, surveillance techniques and mixed martial arts. Class field trips include tailing unsuspecting citizens plus breaking and entering. More important, Max eventually finds friends. All is looking up when he receives a mysterious coded message: his father is not dead. Will Max give up his new-found friends at Merry Sunshine (School for Spies?) to find his dad? Surely a real blood relative is more important than loyalty to a nefarious bunch of misfits? Amid police chases, robbery attempts, lock picking plus breaking and entering, Max, to his surprise, will discover what friendship and family really mean. This is a compelling read with warmth and humor. Illustrations add wonderfully to the suspenseful plot. Well recommended. Reviewer: Judy Crowder
Kirkus Reviews
Thirteen-year-old fosterling Max Segredo knows he's just one stop away from juvie. Luckily, that stop turns out to be the Merry Sunshine Orphanage, where the third floor is off-limits due to a secret science project, and the house rules include "No unsupervised gunplay." Staffed with tough instructors with names like "Styx" and "Stones," the unusually secure "orphanage" turns out to be a vocational school to train students in "Systematic Protection, Intelligence, and Espionage Services." Max fits in nicely, until coded messages suggesting that his father, a spy himself, is still alive spark an urgent need to escape. Hale threads the narrative with colorful metaphors and throwaway lines ("But his search was as fruitless as an all-beef buffet") and festoons it with high- and low-tech tools of spycraft. He ultimately sends his diverse cast of student spies on a field trip/mission that climaxes in a face-off with shadowy LOTUS--a rival organization with the requisite black limos, palatial hidden headquarters, agents who dress like "catalog models for Victoria's Evil Secret" and even a shark tank. Dorman adds a handful of dramatic full-page scenes, and Hale closes with a note on ciphers. One character's sudden murder aside, the tone is mostly light, with family issues and conflicting loyalties (driven by troubling revelations about Max's dad) for added texture. This lightweight kid-spy romp should find some eager readers. (Adventure. 11-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423168508
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 6/25/2013
  • Series: School for Spies Novel Series
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 388,170
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 8.38 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce Hale

Edgar-nominated author Bruce Hale (www.brucehale.com) is passionate about inspiring reluctant readers to read. He has written or illustrated more than 25 seriously funny books for children, including the popular Chet Gecko Mysteries series and the comics-novel hybrid, Underwhere, as well as picture books such as Snoring Beauty and Moki and the Magic Surfboard. An actor and a Fulbright Scholar in Storytelling, Bruce is in demand as a speaker, having presented at conferences, universities, and schools across North America. His acting resume includes regional commercials, theater, and an independent film, "The Ride". Bruce's book The Malted Falcon was an Edgar Award Finalist. Murder, My Tweet won the Little D Award for Humor Writing. He lives in Santa Barbara, California.

Brandon Dorman (www.brandondorman.com) received a BFA from Brigham Young University-Idaho and since then has created hundreds of illustrations for books and magazines. Some of his best-known works include the #1 New York Times best-selling picture book The Wizard; cover art for the Newbery Honor Book Savvy; the best-selling Fablehaven series; and the popular Goosebumps series. He is married and the father of three boys, including one named-appropriately enough—Max.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 21, 2013

    Orphan Max Segredo was wrongly blamed for burning his foster par

    Orphan Max Segredo was wrongly blamed for burning his foster parents’ house. He did NOT do it! But anyway, this little incident earns him the title of “Pyromaniac.” Thus, Max finds himself at the Merry Sunshine Orphanage as a last chance before landing in juvenile hall. Max soon finds out that this isn’t an ordinary orphanage – it teaches special skills – SPY skills!

    At the spy school/orphanage, Max learns:

    to pick locks,
    break codes,
    and do martial arts, among other things. Max also learns that
    his dad is still alive (via coded message)

    Soon Max finds himself on a dangerous mission trying to stop smugglers, and an evil group of spies while trying to find his dad!

    This is a great book! I love spies (that’s on my list of what I want to be when I grow up) and this book was AWESOME!!! I REALLY really really want a sequel to this book (and seeing that it’s book 1, I expect a book 2!), and I can’t wait to read book 2 when it comes out! Max is a great character! I like how Max adapts very well to the situations in the school. I like Mr. Hale’s writing style – he adds just the right amount of humor, action, and sarcasm in this exciting book!
    *NOTE* I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2014

    Alagaesia Rules and Map

    Rules:<br>1. Be realistic. I mean seriously, it wouldn't be fun if you weren't.<br>2. No godmodding. That goes along with being realistic.<br>3. Please try to advertise. We want to have as many characters as possible.<br>4. Have fun! Enjoy yourself in the epic world of Alagaesia!<p>Map:<br>'e and s' res 3~ the heart of Alagaesia; the main center<br>'uru' res 1~ Uru'baen<br>'el' res 2~ Ellesmera<br>'tro' res 1~ Tronjheim<p>Note: Map is subject to changes. Will be updated.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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