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The Wig in the Window

The Wig in the Window

5.0 5
by Kristen Kittscher

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In this funny and clever middle grade mystery reminiscent of Rear Window and perfect for fans of the Mysterious Benedict Society series, Sophie Young and Grace Yang are best friends, seventh graders, and spies.

Sophie and Grace have made a game out of spying on their neighbors. On one of their midnight stakeouts, they witness a terrifying scene at


In this funny and clever middle grade mystery reminiscent of Rear Window and perfect for fans of the Mysterious Benedict Society series, Sophie Young and Grace Yang are best friends, seventh graders, and spies.

Sophie and Grace have made a game out of spying on their neighbors. On one of their midnight stakeouts, they witness a terrifying scene at the home of their bizarre middle-school counselor Dr. Charlotte Agford (also known as Dr. Awkward).

At least, they think they do. When the girls are proven wrong, they are still convinced that Dr. Agford is hiding a terrible secret—and they're determined to find out what it is. Soon the girls are breaking secret codes, being followed by a strange blue car, and tailing strangers with unibrows and Texas accents. But as their investigation heats up, Sophie and Grace start to crack under the pressure. Will solving the case destroy their friendship?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"We'd only been running night missions since the start of the school year, when Grace had decided twelve was the right age to train for a real FBI career," says seventh-grader Sophie Young about the midnight spy exercises she conducts with her best friend, Grace Yang, in their sleepy town of Luna Vista, Calif. On one such night, they witness what appears to be their odd school counselor, Dr. Charlotte Agford, murdering someone in her kitchen. Armed with gadgets, Grace's full-speed-ahead attitude, and wisdom from Sun Tzu's The Art of War, the none-too-similar best friends work together to solve the mystery, which comes to light through a series of red herrings that maintain tension. First in a planned series, Kittscher's debut novel addresses the inevitable rocky periods in middle-school friendships with perceptiveness, honesty, and well-targeted humor that avoids being cartoonish. The two would-be sleuths navigate one ludicrous predicament after another, and readers should sympathize with the girls as an innocent bit of espionage lands them in some serious hot water. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (June)
Kate Messner
“This book is funny, realistic, and suspenseful —a pitch-perfect mystery for the tween set.”
Kirsten Miller
“A witty, weird and wonderful book, The Wig in the Window’s trouble-making detectives kept me laughing—while the suspense had me inching towards the edge of my seat. It’s a perfect middle grade mystery!
Children's Literature - Zella Cunningham
Young and Yang, Super sleuths! Sophie Young and Grace Yang are middle school students whose curiosity and spy senses uncover a criminal case involving a fugitive. Charlotte Agford, the Luna Vista Middle School counselor, appeared in Sophie's neighborhood two years ago. There is not a clue to her existence before then. Sophie Young overhears a one-sided phone conversation between Agford and a mystery person, Danny, and it is enough to activate her spy antenna. What is Agford hiding behind her fake voice, fake hair, and fake body parts? The girls' attempts at solving the mystery land them in trouble with their parents, the school, the police, and threatens their friendship. The only ring of implausibility in an otherwise well-written story is the unlikely plot involving young students in an investigation that is dangerous and possibly deadly. Young readers will enjoy the familiar characters: Trent Spinner, the class bully, and his followers, Trista, the class misfit who comes to the rescue, and Clarissa and the other "-issas," Agford's S.M.I.L.E, a group of girls who report Sophie's actions to the counselor and exclude those they deem unworthy of membership. Young readers who are interested in an exciting, action-packed story line will enjoy this book. Reviewer: Zella Cunningham
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Twelve-year-old Sophie Young and her best friend, Grace Yang, have been sneaking out of their houses for midnight spy missions in hopes of catching criminals on the FBI's Most Wanted list. What has seemed like a game suddenly becomes serious when they stumble through the yard of Sophie's school counselor and witness her chopping wildly with a cleaver. Although it turns out that Dr. Agford was merely cutting up beets for her latest batch of pickled vegetables, Sophie and Grace still suspect that she is hiding something sinister. As the girls try to discern the truth, Sophie finds herself in situations both awkward and terrifying, and she wonders if her friendship with Grace will last through their investigation. This fast-paced, action-packed romp has all the ingredients of a great mystery, and it does not leave out the angst felt by so many middle schoolers. Readers will see themselves and their friends in Sophie and her classmates, and they will have a difficult time tearing themselves away.—Sarah Reid, Broome County Public Library, Binghamton, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Mayhem ensues when 12-year-olds Grace and Sophie spot the school counselor in the act of bloody murder. The friends have been sneaking around on imaginative, late-night spying missions for some time, but they've been pretty tame. This changes when they see the already mysterious, cloyingly sweet and very unpleasant Dr. Agford attacking something--somebody?--with a streaming red cleaver, overhear her suspicious phone conversation and then decide to call 911. The call is traced to Sophie's phone, and she takes full blame, since it turns out Agford was apparently just chopping beets. The girls, though, still think she's up to something. Agford decides to begin "counseling" Sophie to keep tabs on her, kids at school begin to harass her, and the suspense ratchets up as the girls investigate the counselor's background--and her bizarre wig. An FBI agent who at first seems likely to help begins to look threatening. Sensible and smart but socially ostracized fellow student Trista proves to be the voice of reason as Sophie's world begins to fall apart. Sophie's first-person narration rings true and makes the growing peril feel ominously real. Ample red herrings keep young sleuths and engaged readers guessing in this thrilling debut mystery. Reminiscent of the ever-compelling film Rear Window, this appealing and often spine-tingling tale will leave its audience wishing for more. (Mystery. 11-13)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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File size:
813 KB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years


Meet the Author

Kristen Kittscher is a writing tutor in Pasadena, California, where she lives with her husband. The 2014 James Thurber House Children's Writer-in-Residence and a graduate of Brown University, she taught middle-school English for many years. She is the author of The Tiara on the Terrace and The Wig in the Window.

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The Wig in the Window 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What an enjoyable book! A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am in the middle of reading this book, it is so awesome! This is a good book for ages 9-13:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a charming middle grade read with a mystery that kept me on my toes. I loved the So Cal beach setting—an idyllic neighborhood for a creepy mystery. As a kid I was obsessed with HARRIET THE SPY, and this book really brought back those memories. I think kids will feel the same fondness for Young and Yang—the intrepid spies—that I did for Harriet. The twists and turns in the mystery were real surprises and as an adult I found myself yelling out "WHAT!" as I read them. Aside from the intriguing mystery element, I thought the characters were incredibly well-written—the friendship between Young and Yang truly realistic in all its flaws and strengths, and the evolution of Sophie Young's character from timid to brave was quite realistic. Really loved this book, a fun and smart middle grade read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay, so I don't usually do book reviews... But Kristen Kittscher deserves a humungous shout-out! WIG made me laugh, brought tears to my eyes, had me flipping pages like a mad women, kept me up past my bed time, and thoroughly entertained me! Huzzah. I loved it! This isn't just for middle-schoolers!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This books is fantastic. I was expecting something light-hearted and funny, a whimsical adventure about two young female sleuths who get in over their heads... what I got was all of that, plus so much more.  There is *depth* to this book. Not hit-you-on-the-head-with-Big-Issues kind of depth (although I like those books, too), but subtle depth in every character and situation. Stereotypes are routinely addressed and smashed, and readers will be introduced to the idea of cultural appropriation, perhaps for the first time. Perception is a big theme, and we're constantly re-assessing what we know about the characters and story based on changing information -- something most of us in the real world don't do nearly enough. This theme is so perfectly suited for a mystery plot, where new information is routinely uncovered, making the plot a natural vehicle for self-reflection and growth.  But there are great fight scenes, too, and a ton of unexpected plot twists and reversals. The stakes escalate quickly and ramp up to a thrilling end sequence. Sophie, our main hero, begins the book as a bit of a follower, always taking the lead from her best friend Grace. But their friendship becomes more complicated when Sophie meets a new friend, the amazing Trista, and begins to eventually develop a strength all her own.  This is an empowering, enlightening book in so many ways -- but it's also just plain FUN and laugh-out-loud funny, too. I can't recommend it highly enough. I'll be putting this on my shelf next to Ellen Raskin's THE WESTING GAME.