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Secret Agent

Secret Agent

4.7 4
by Robyn Freedman Spizman, Mark Johnston

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LISTEN UP PEOPLE, because we've got a problem here. It's time to get really worried, and by that I mean majorly concerned, about Kyle Parker. he used to be a cool guy. Okay, not the smartest kid at school or the best looking, but he could always hold his own. Until recently. Until he failed to notice that Lucinda (who, btw, is really hot) has been


LISTEN UP PEOPLE, because we've got a problem here. It's time to get really worried, and by that I mean majorly concerned, about Kyle Parker. he used to be a cool guy. Okay, not the smartest kid at school or the best looking, but he could always hold his own. Until recently. Until he failed to notice that Lucinda (who, btw, is really hot) has been following him around for weeks. Or that a volleyball was coming straight for his face during gym. But can you blame him at a time like this?

In case you haven't heard, Kyle's mom kicked his dad out of the house. Why? Because of a book. Kyle's dad's book. The one he's been writing and can't get published. Which means he can't make any money. Which means he can't support his family. So it's the big D. Divorce. Unless Kyle can pull a fast one and fake out the most famous editor in New York City.


By going undercover. Secret. Top secret. That's right. Kyle Parker is about to become his dad's secret agent. So pay attention because he's going to need all the help he can get.

Editorial Reviews

High school student Kyle Parker becomes the "secret agent" in this story, but not the type the reader might presume. His parents are splitting up because Kyle's father has been writing, submitting, and rewriting the "great American novel" for six years. His mother, the reluctant breadwinner, finally kicks him out. Kyle secretly vows to act as a literary agent and get his dad's manuscript in front of a publisher. He enlists help from his circle of friends, which include a girl with a crush on him and two obnoxious male pals. They do some rudimentary Internet research and hatch a slapstick plot to filch a copy of the manuscript, get it onto a famous editor's desk, and get Mr. Parker's name on the lips of everyone involved. The girl proves to be quite resourceful, and the male pals put their unusual talents to good use. Their plan is thwarted by inevitable plot twists but by the final page, a happy ending is had by all. Teen readers might find the laid-back writing style acceptable; there are countless one word, run-on, or incomplete sentences and an invisible narrator's insertions of the "Yes, you read that right" variety. The dialogue and actions of the teens sometimes seem unrealistic and jump from elementary to sophisticated as dictated by the plot. Barring these distractions, the clever story is a quick read and a bit of fun. The debut co-authors are a television personality and an English teacher who might produce a sequel as some story lines remain unresolved. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2005, Atheneum/S & S, 240p., Ages 11 to 15.
Children's Literature
Clever, daring teens outwit the redoubtable New York book establishment and manage to convince the city's hottest editor that a much-rejected manuscript is best-seller material, worth a fortune. This is a thought that may amuse a lot of adult writers and professional book editors, but the emotional intensity this novel builds around its celebrity editor, publisher and a pseudonymous best-selling author may or may not resonate with kids reading the book. Happily, the story of Kyle Parker's quest to publish his dad's long-languishing novel, and thereby restore his parents' marriage, works as an engaging read for ages 10-14 because of its authentic characterization of Kyle and his friends working together adventurously and creatively to solve a problem. The authors capture both the spirit and dialogue of a group of young adolescents as they conspire, inspire, tease, misunderstand and accept each other's weaknesses and respect each other's strengths and experience romantic attractions for the first time. The strength of the writing is in the authors' often-delightful use of detailed descriptions of ordinary moments and objects to build dramatic tension; if there is a weakness, it is the choppy syntax, which detracts more than it adds to the book's strong voice. In The School Story, Andrew Clements used the idea of a kid posing as a literary agent to win New York publication for a classmate's book; Kyle Parker's story is for a slightly older audience, with more grown-up and growing-up twists thrown in, not to mention a few innovative tips for desperate authors. 2005, Atheneum, Ages 10 to 14.
—J. H. Diehl
Secret Agent is an amusing, offbeat story of an ingenious boy, Kyle, who figures out a way to keep his parents from getting a divorce. His mother is furious that his father has been working on a novel for years, without it being published—she can't take it any more and kicks him out. So Kyle and his small group of friends conspire to get the novel published by a major publishing house in NYC where they live—and in this way, save his parents' marriage. Instead of secret agent meaning a spy, in this case it means a secret literary agent. Kyle gets his first lead when he inadvertently discovers that the male owner of the dog he walks each afternoon is actually a most successful author writing romances under a female name. In a succession of bold, innovative actions, Kyle and his friends deceive, fool, and pretend their way to successfully getting Kyle's father's brilliant novel accepted for publication. This is a cooperative effort by two authors. The sentences are frequently short and the dialog catchy and quick. The book is being marketed to ages 10—12, even though the teenagers in the story are in high school. It's a good combination of easy to read but demanding some sophistication on the part of the reader (just to get many of the cultural references). It's light and funny too, with appeal to the middle school group. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2005, Simon & Schuster, Atheneum, 231p., Ages 12 to 15.
—Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-Kyle, a New York City high school freshman, is willing to do almost anything to keep his parents together. Convinced that their separation is due simply to his father's obsession with a book he has written, the boy enlists an oddball collection of friends as "secret agents" to help get Dad's senior romance published. The vast array of semi-developed characters includes a flamboyant yet seclusive writer whom no one knows is really a famous "female" author, a dead but influential editor, an unexpectedly wonderful old bookseller who "adopts" Kyle's dad, a classy senior editor whom the kids need to impress, and a bevy of buddies. Through Kyle's persistence and increasing ability to perceive connections and utilize them, the teens manage to lift the manuscript from Dad's hiding place, start a "buzz" throughout New York's publishing industry about the fabulous writer "everybody's" talking about, but no one can find-and secret the manuscript to the senior editor in a ruse involving a "recommendation" from her deceased mentor. Though the journey is circuitous, the characters excessive, and the narrative unsettling (the story is told by an omniscient observer who is afflicted with a severe case of teen speak), it becomes a strangely compelling adventure in which readers root for Kyle's success.-Mary R. Hofmann, Rivera Middle School, Merced, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This story of a boy trying to patch up his parents' marriage has heart, but is seriously marred by a deliberately choppy writing style. Kyle's shy dad has been writing a novel for years, while working in a used bookstore. When his mom can't take it anymore, Kyle and his friends decide they must find a way to publish his dad's book. After finding evidence that Kyle's dad truly is a great writer, the kids gang up to get New York's most famous literary agent to read it, carrying out their clandestine caper with humor and suspense. While the book's constant use of sentence fragments looks good in a readability formula, it actually makes the prose more difficult to read than would complete sentences. However, the style and fun story still may appeal to many in the middle-school set. (Fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Sold by:
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

"The end!"

Funny way to start a story, but these are the two words that Kyle Parker heard his mom shout at his dad through the thick walls of their brownstone on Twentieth Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues in New York City at four minutes before midnight on Wednesday, June 9, two weeks and one day before Roosevelt High School got out for the summer.

"Did you hear me, Walter? I said I've had it!"

"I heard you. Everybody in Manhattan heard you. Including our son."

"Kyle's asleep."

"I doubt it."

So did Kyle. But maybe he was wrong. Maybe he was dreaming. And maybe his mother wasn't really telling his father she'd had it. And worse, much worse, calling him by his name.

That's right. Kyle's mom told Kyle's dad she'd had it a lot. Mostly with the book Kyle's dad had been writing for the past six years called Love in Autumn. Which, if you asked Kyle, was about as sappy as you could get. The name of the book. I mean, who wants to read a book about love? In autumn? Which just happened to be when Kyle's mom and dad first met.

November 14.

On the skating pond.

In Central Park.

Which was autumn. Or fall. Or whatever you want to call it. Like I said, Kyle called it sappy. And figured that was why no one would publish Love in Autumn and send his dad some money. Which was the real reason Kyle's mom told Kyle's dad she'd had it. Because she was sick of being the one who earned all the money all the time. Even when Kyle's dad reminded her she didn't earn all the money, since Kyle's dad worked at the Open Book in Greenwich Village four nights a week.

"That's a part-time job for a high school kid!" Kyle's momanswered back. "Not for a grown man with a wife and a son and responsibilities!"

And stomped out of the room.

And slammed the door.

But never -- not once, not ever -- did she call him by his name.

Until tonight.

Chapter 2

Kyle wasn't the best-looking kid at Roosevelt High School. Nor the most popular. Nor the best athlete. But he wasn't a loser, either. I mean, girls liked him. Or, at least, some did. Or, at least, Lucinda Winston did. But she lived across the street. And still went to PS 126. And worse, way worse, had freckles.

Not that Kyle had anything against freckles. But what would his friends say? Which was a pretty stupid question since he knew exactly what they'd say. And, yeah, this is a delicate subject we're talking about here. I mean, Kyle knew there was nothing wrong with freckles, and anyone who thought different was stupid or prejudiced or both. So he just pretended that freckles had nothing to do with it and convinced himself that Lucinda was just too young (a whole six and a half months younger than he was) and lumped her into the kid category. Which, as you might imagine, thrilled Lucinda no end. In other words, it made her so furious there were times she hated the very mention of the name Kyle Parker. Which, of course, was another way of saying she had a mad crush on him.

Did she mind that his knees were bigger than his calves and that his elbows were bigger than his forearms and that his hair stuck up like the crown of a rooster?


Kyle was smart like his dad and hardworking like his mom and knew computers better than anyone on the planet. At least, that was the way Lucinda saw it. Though it wasn't what made her eyelashes curl and her big toes tingle anytime Kyle even glanced in her direction. It was his smile. His special smile. Which, Lucinda realized, was as corny as all get-out. Especially since he saved it for his dog.


That's right. That was the dog's name. Which was a pretty high-class name for a dog, any dog, especially a dog as goofy as this dog. Plus, he wasn't even Kyle's dog. You see, Kyle's dad was allergic. So, as far as Kyle's house was concerned, there may as well have been a sign above the door that read No Dogs Allowed (or cats or canaries, for that matter). Another kid may have turned sulky. But that wasn't Kyle's style. He became a professional dog walker. That's right. He walked Shakespeare for money. Because some dog owners, no matter how much they loved their dogs, either didn't have the time or didn't make the time to watch their four-legged friends take a dump.

Sound gross?

Not to Kyle.

He was crazy about Shakespeare -- pooper-scooper and all -- even before four o'clock that afternoon. When Shakespeare changed everything forever.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Because it wasn't 4 P.M. It was 7 A.M. The morning after the night Kyle heard his mom shout, "The end!" Which meant Kyle wasn't thinking about Shakespeare. Or even his mom sitting across the breakfast table, biting her lower lip. He was thinking about his stomach. Which felt as if someone had tied it into a knot and yanked it so tight he was afraid he might double over and smash, face first, into his Grape-Nuts flakes. Kyle heard a grumbling noise. It sounded like a locomotive. Only it wasn't roaring down the tracks. It was inside his head. Getting louder. And louder. Until Kyle knew there was only one question that could stop it. Not by slamming on the brakes. But by turning his life into a head-on collision.

"Where's Dad?" Kyle said.

Chapter 3

This isn't easy to say about a mother, any mother, especially Kyle's mother, since Kyle wasn't doing all that hot at the moment. But Polly Parker was cut-and-dry. What I mean is, there was no middle ground with Kyle's mom. Things were either good or bad. Right or wrong. No compromises. No second-guessing. Once she made up her mind, that was it. Finished. End of story. You might consider this hard-hearted. But as far as Mrs. Parker was concerned, she'd been raising two kids the past six years. And one of them happened to be her husband.

"Kyle, your father won't be living here any longer," she said.

She didn't shrug. She didn't reach across the table and hold Kyle's hand. She didn't say, "I'm sorry." Because that was another thing about Kyle's mom. She got right to the point. No shilly-shallying or dillydallying. Life was what it was. And it didn't get any better if you tried to dress it up with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

"Why?" Kyle said.

"I think you know why," his mom said.

So okay. So it's time we said something nice about Mrs. Parker. Which, actually, isn't all that difficult. Because Mrs. Parker probably worked as hard at her profession as anyone you will ever meet. Plus, she was great at it.

Great as a what?

As a headhunter.

No, she didn't shrink human skulls and stick them on the ends of spears. A headhunter is business lingo for someone who gets people jobs. Lawyer jobs. Teacher jobs. Executive assistant jobs. All kinds of jobs. And, yeah, Mrs. Parker got paid. And, yeah, she and her family needed the money. But money wasn't the only reason she was so dedicated.

You see, Mrs. Parker believed that the right person in the right job for the right amount of money gave that person self-respect. Which was why she worked ten hours a day five days a week. I don't mean she showed up. I don't mean she put in her time. I mean, once she took you on as a client, it was pretty much a done deal that you were no more than three weeks away from starting your career.

And that wasn't all. She had another great quality. Mrs. Parker loved Kyle the way Kyle loved Shakespeare.



The no-compromising part of her personality?

That had nothing to do with Kyle. Oh, sure, he had to drink his milk and do his homework and be polite and get to bed on time. There was no cutting corners on any of that stuff. But with the big stuff, the stuff that mattered, the stuff that gave Kyle confidence and made him feel secure, Mrs. Parker never wavered.

Not once.

Not ever.

So don't worry. Kyle wasn't shaking in his socks that if he chewed with his mouth open he'd be out the door with his dad. As far as Kyle's mom was concerned, there was the rest of the world, and then there was Kyle, and Mrs. Parker was as fierce as a grizzly bear when it came to protecting her cub.

Which was what she figured she was doing now. Protecting Kyle by giving it to him straight. No false hope. No pretending things might get better. Kyle's father was gone. She kicked him out. Deal with it.

"For good?" Kyle said.

"Yes, Kyle."

"No chance you'll get back together?"

"No chance."


Mrs. Parker didn't answer. Not out loud. Instead, she closed her eyes. And took a deep breath. And, in spite of herself, she reached across the table and took hold of her son's hand. Because, remember, this was Kyle. The crack in her armor. And she was hurting him. And she knew it. And she'd rather rip her arm off at the socket than hear that tone in his voice or see that look in his eyes.

"What can I do, Kyle?" she finally said. "It's the book. He's been writing it for six years. Six years, Kyle. Without a penny. I have dreams too. I'm working ten hours a day, and for what? I want you to go to a good college. I want you to have everything you deserve. You're a smart boy, Kyle, and I can't keep paying the bills on your father's dream. It's killing me. I can't stand it any longer."

And she broke down. Right there at the kitchen table. Which may not sound odd to you. But as far as Kyle was concerned it was like the moon exploding or Tiger Woods hitting a drive less than two hundred yards. Kyle tried to move but couldn't. He tried to speak but couldn't do that, either.

So he just sat there.


Not just because of his mom's tears. But also because of her last sentence. "I can't stand it any longer," she'd said. Not him. She hadn't said, "I can't stand him any longer." She'd said it. Which meant his dad wasn't killing her. The book was. Because it wasn't earning any money. Because it wasn't published. Which meant Kyle had to do something. He had to figure out a way to make sure Love in Autumn got published. No matter what. No matter where. Then maybe, just maybe, his mom and dad might get back together.

But how do you get a book published?



Copyright © 2005 by Robyn Freedman Spizman

Meet the Author

Robyn Freedman Spizman is an award-winning author and a nationally known media personality and consumer advocate. She has appeared for the past two decades on television and radio, and is considered a leading product-and-gift expert. To learn more about her go to www.robynsipizman.com. Robyn lives with her husband in Atlanta, Georgia, and they have two children, Justin and Ali. Secret Agent is her middle-grade fiction debut.
Mark Johnston teaches English in Greenville, South Carolina, where he lives with his wife. Secret Agent is his first novel.

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Secret Agent 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Manirul More than 1 year ago
Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!
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