Two young adventure-loving and gadget-obsessed penguins dream of joining the FBI (Frosty Bureau of Investigation) in Sam Hay's hilarious new illustrated chapter book series, Spy Penguins.
Adventure-loving penguin Jackson dreams of being a secret agent like his Uncle Bryn, who works for the Frosty Bureau of Investigation. Jackson and his gadget-inventing best friend Quigley might officially be too young to join the FBI, but they aren’t going to let that stop them! They just need to come up with the right plan to prove that they are worthy.
But when one of Q’s inventions goes dangerously wrong, Jackson suddenly finds himself dropped right in the middle off an FBI stakeout. There’s fishy business afoot at the city’s aquarium; rare fish are vanishing and not even the FBI can work out what’s going on. It’s up to Jackson and Quigley to solve the crime!
About the Author
Sam Hay is the author of over thirty books for children including the Undead Pets series and Stella and the Night Spirits. Sam trained as a journalist in Edinburgh. After starting out in newspapers, Sam moved to London where she worked for BBC television for ten years. She still believes working on daily live television is the perfect brain-trainer for life! Sam became a full-time writer when her first baby was born and now lives in Wales with her husband and two children who provide the inspiration for many of her stories.
Marek Jagucki is a graduate of Falmouth School of Art and Design. He is a full-time illustrator and graphic designer based in Yorkshire, UK.
Marek Jagucki, the illustrator of the My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish series, is a graduate of Falmouth School of Art and Design. He is a full-time illustrator and graphic designer based in Yorkshire, UK.
Sam Hay is the author of over thirty books for children including the UNDEAD PETS series (Grosset&Dunlap/Penguin US, Stripes UK) and STELLA AND THE NIGHT SPIRITS (Scholastic US). UNDEAD PETS has been translated into six languages so far. Sam also writes picture books for Egmont, including DO NOT WASH THIS BEAR, DINOSAURS UNITED (July 2017) and STAR IN THE JAR (2018). She was long-listed for the UKLA award for her 2009 novel BILLY ANGEL.
Sam was brought up in Scotland and trained as a journalist in Edinburgh. After starting out in newspapers, Sam moved to London where she worked for BBC television for ten years. She still reckons working on daily live television is the perfect brain trainer for life! Sam became a full-time writer when her first baby was born and now lives in Wales with her husband and two children who provide the inspiration for many of her stories. Sam is a passionate advocate for improving literacy in schools and is a regular visitor to classrooms across the country. She has a fantastic repertoire of games and stories to get kids excited about reading.
Read an Excerpt
Secret Agent 00Zero (also known as Jackson to his mom) wiped the frost off his icePad and handed it to his best friend, Quigley. "Ready?"
"Sure!" Quigley said, pointing the icePad camera at the sled behind Jackson. "The Ice Blaster looks awesome on-screen."
Jackson smiled. "Great, but remember to get me in the shot, too."
Quigley's face turned shrimp pink. "Oh, yeah," he mumbled, stepping back to include Jackson in the picture. "Sorry."
Jackson sighed. Quigley was supposed to be filming Jackson riding the sled down Frostbite Ridge — the giant iceberg above Rookeryville, where they lived. But so far it looked like the video was going to be ALL sled and NO Jackson. But, Jackson reminded himself, this is no ordinary sled. It was Quigley's latest and greatest invention: a super-speedy, ice-blasting spy-getaway vehicle with four giant rocket blasters on the back. A sled so epic, Jackson thought it could be the answer to his dreams ...
"Let's do this!" Jackson put on his sunglasses and shook out his feathers so they stood up on end, making him look tough. Because you had to be tough if you wanted to be a secret agent working for the FBI (the Frosty Bureau of Investigation). And joining the FBI was the reason they were shooting the video. It was the thing Jackson wanted more than anything else in the world. Even more than he wanted his favorite flipper-ball team, the Toothfish, to win the league pennant. All he had to do was convince the FBI that they needed him.
Quigley pointed the icePad at Jackson. "FBI audition video, take one."
Jackson took a deep breath. "Hi, I'm Secret Agent 00Zero," he said, staring into the camera with a serious look on his face. "I'm here today to show you — the bosses at the FBI — why you should hire me as a trainee secret agent. Oh, and you'll definitely want to hire my buddy, too —"
Quigley spun the icePad around to himself. "Hi there!" He beamed into the lens before turning it back to Jackson.
"That was Secret Agent Q," Jackson said. "We've been friends since we were eggs. He's the greatest gadget inventor in Rookeryville —"
"Err, make that the WORLD!" Jackson winked at Quigley, then went back to looking serious again. "This is one of Agent Q's inventions." He waggled his flipper at the sled. "And I'm going to use it to demonstrate my secret-agent driving skills. Let's do this!" Jackson gave a flippers-up, then climbed aboard the sled. He gripped the steering wheel with both wings and pushed his foot down on the accelerator pedal.
"Err — Quigley," Jackson whispered. "I'm still here."
Quigley peered around the side of the icePad. "Maybe it just needs a shove."
As Quigley's foot made contact with the back of the sled there was a loud VAROOM! The rocket blasters exploded to life, burping out a plume of stinky seaweed-smelling smoke and shooting the sled forward, nearly knocking Jackson off his seat.
"Whoa!" he breathed as he zoomed down the slope, his spiky yellow crest flapping in the icy wind. If this doesn't show them, nothing will!
VHOOSH! He steered the sled left to avoid a giant boulder.
VHOOSH! He steered right to miss three dad penguins out for a huddle with their eggs.
VHOOSH! He steered left to avoid heading down the path to the Cliff of Doom, but suddenly the sled seemed to hiccup. And then splutter. And then —
"Ahhhhhh!" Jackson screamed. Or he would have if he hadn't been a secret agent, because secret agents weren't allowed to scream, even when they were racing down an iceberg and the steering wheel of their getaway vehicle had just come off in their flippers.
"Help!" Jackson yelled, breaking the secret-agent rule of never shouting for help on a secret spy mission, on account of the sled having, by itself, turned right — a VERY, VERY, EXTREMELY HARD RIGHT — which meant it was now out of control and hurtling toward the Cliff of Doom.
Don't panic, Jackson told himself. Secret agents never panic. Jackson knew this because his Uncle Bryn was a real-life secret agent with the FBI. And Uncle Bryn never panicked, even when he mislaid his secret-agent tool kit, which happened at least twice a week.
Jackson looked desperately at the dashboard. There has to be a way to stop this thing. ... Wait. ... What's that? He noticed a small red button with Quigley's squiggly writing underneath. Jackson tried to read the writing, hoping it might say p-a-r-a-c-h-u-t-e. But instead, "MR-jen-C," he read aloud. Huh?
There was no time to figure it out. He hit the button and held his breath as the ground below him vanished and he shot over the Cliff of Doom.
For one feather-clenching moment nothing happened. The sled just sort of sailed through the sky, minding its own business. And Jackson felt a bubble of hope in his belly. Maybe this is actually a flying secret spy-getaway vehicle, he thought. Maybe Quigley really is a genius —
Or maybe not. Jackson gripped the sides of the sled as it suddenly stopped minding its own business and began f-a-l-l-i-n-g. ...
"HELP!" Jackson tried slapping the M-R-jen-C button again and again. But nothing happened. "Sucking squids! Do something!" he yelled at the sled.
And it did.
A giant split appeared in the floor between Jackson's feet.
"Noooo! I'm doomed," he groaned.
But just then there was a loud whoosh and four enormous shapes burst out of the split. And the sled suddenly yo-yoed back up into the air, jerking and twisting as four giant inflating helium balloons bobbed against one another.
"Quigley, you are a genius!" Jackson breathed as he gently glided up, up, up through the air over Rookeryville.
Jackson craned his neck over the side. He could see his school ... and the park ... and Brain Freezers. Brain Freezers was the best milk shake shack in Rookeryville; it had amazing seaweed shakes. Jackson tried to see if anyone was sitting in his and Quigley's favorite seats in the window. Mission Control, they called it. It was the place where they hatched all their best FBI-joining schemes.
Jackson was so busy thinking about Brain Freezers that he didn't spot the large shape looming out of the clouds toward him until it was too late.
"Stop! No!" He shook his flippers wildly at the gigantic bird soaring straight toward him. "LOOK OUT!" he yelled.
But the albatross obviously didn't speak penguin.
SQUAWK! And suddenly the sky was a messy jumble of wings, sled, feathers, beaks, balloons, claws — SUPER-SHARP BALLOON-POPPING CLAWS —
POP! POP! POP! POP! H-i-s-sssssssss.
For the second time in five minutes Jackson found himself dropping from the sky. He shut his eyes as the air whistled past his ears and he waited for the splat.
Except it wasn't a SPLAT. It was more of a sploosh, as everything turned greeny-blue and bubbly and wet, and slightly fish-pooey stinky.
"The sea!" Jackson shouted, sending a stream of air bubbles out of his beak. "I landed in the sea." Which was odd, because he was pretty sure he'd been right above the town when he'd started falling. But I've always been a lucky kind of penguin, he reminded himself as he swam upward, scattering a group of strange-looking giant fish. Must remember to tell the FBI how lucky I am. All secret agents need a feather or two of luck.
Jackson was still thinking about how lucky he was when he reached the surface and poked his head out —
"Huh?" He looked around. This did NOT look like the sea. It was more like ... a pond, he guessed, glancing around. A large pond withbuildings all around and — and — Wait! Who are all those scary-looking penguin dudes in dark glasses with ICE LASERS POINTING AT MY HEAD?
"FREEZE!" one shouted. "Or we'll ice you into oblivion."CHAPTER 2
"Stop! Don't shoot!" Jackson held up his flippers, his heart racing.
One of the penguins took off his sunglasses. "Jackson? Is that you?"
Jackson took off his sunglasses, too, and blinked at the familiar face. "Uncle Bryn?" Relief flooded through his feathers. The other penguins lowered their ice lasers, but they were still staring at him. And then a tiny bell sounded in the back of Jackson's brain and his beak fell open in surprise. "Oh!" he breathed. "Is this an FBI stakeout?"
As soon as he said it he wished he hadn't, because secret agents weren't allowed to talk about their work. NOT EVER! (Though Jackson's Uncle Bryn wasn't actually good at this rule. Just the week before he'd come over for a sea-lettuce stir-fry and blabbed something about having to leave soon because they were planning an FBI operation to take down a super-baddie called Bad Beak.)
"I won't tell," Jackson said, looking around at all the agents. "You can trust me." The penguins began shuffling their feet and clearing their throats, sliding their ice lasers back into their suits.
"Sorry, guys," Uncle Bryn mumbled to his colleagues. "Can you give us a minute? Here, Jackson, grab my flipper."
"What's this all about?" Jackson asked, climbing out of the water and shaking his feathers dry.
"I can't talk about my work, Jackson, you know that," Uncle Bryn said loudly, so his colleagues could hear.
"What is this place, anyway?" Jackson peered at the large notice boards with pictures of fish on them around the pond, and a giant sign saying:
"The City Aquarium," Uncle Bryn whispered. "Where they keep the rare fish."
Jackson looked back at the pool he'd just climbed out of. So that was why the fish he'd swum past had looked so strange. "Oh, yeah," he said, nodding. "I remember now. We came here for a school trip in first grade. Hoff Rockface ate a super-rare shrimp and Mrs. Cockle-Hopper made him barf it back up. She told Hoff if he didn't, he'd be locked up in jail." Jackson glanced around. "The shrimp was fine, by the way. It's probably still here somewhere."
Uncle Bryn nodded. But he was watching his colleagues, who were in a huddle now, whispering to one another. "I think maybe you'd better go home now, Jackson," he said quietly. "My boss isn't the friendliest penguin in Rookeryville."
As if she'd heard him, a large emperor penguin with a very long beak broke away from the huddle and waved her flipper. "That's it, guys. The operation is canceled. The target is not going to show now. Not after all this fuss." She turned her glare on Jackson. "Stupid hatchling!" she hissed.
Jackson felt his cheeks burning. Hatchling? He wished the ground would swallow him up, blue whale–style.
Uncle Bryn shuffled his feet in embarrassment.
"I'm so sorry," Jackson said quietly.
"It's okay," Uncle Bryn said. "Not your fault."
"Return to base!" the boss penguin shouted. "Except for you." She waddled over and poked Uncle Bryn in the chest with a sharp flipper. "Did you tell that hatchling about our mission?" She glanced at Jackson. "Well? Did you?"
"N-n-no, boss," Uncle Bryn spluttered.
She narrowed her eyes. "I've seen him before. I never forget a beak."
Jackson gulped and quickly hid his beak behind his flipper. But it was true. A few weeks before, when Uncle Bryn had come by for a barbecue and accidentally left his spy camera behind, Jackson had taken it to him at the FBI's secret base. It actually wasn't a very secret base, on account of Uncle Bryn having put a sticker on his spy camera that said, PROPERTY OF SECRET AGENT BRYN ROCKFLOPPER. IF FOUND, PLEASE RETURN TO FBI HEADQUARTERS, THE SECRET BASE, 1 HIDDEN HARBOR DRIVE, ROOKERYVILLE. P.S. PLEASE DON'T TELL ANYONE. Jackson had bumped into Uncle Bryn's boss at the door, and she hadn't been very welcoming. Nope. Not one bit. More like an angry walrus with a bad toothache.
"I've warned you before, Agent Rockflopper," the boss penguin hissed at Uncle Bryn. "If you mess up again, you'll be out of the FBI and back on traffic duty before you can fluff your tail feathers!" She shook her head. "Consider yourself officially on notice. One more mistake and you'll be out — FOREVER!" She turned and waddled off, with the other agents following behind.
Uncle Bryn sighed. "Bye, Jackson." He patted his nephew on the head. "I'll see you soon. Oh, look —" As Uncle Bryn walked past the pond, he reached down and pulled out the sled, which had resurfaced. Water skooshed out the sides. "Maybe I can help you fix it up sometime." Uncle Bryn handed it to Jackson. "It looks like I might have a lot of free time soon." He followed his colleagues into the main building of the aquarium, hunched over, his beak turned down.
A wave of worry passed through Jackson's feathers. He shivered. Was Uncle Bryn about to lose his job on account of him? If only he hadn't crash-landed right in the middle of the FBI stakeout. Maybe I should go tell Uncle Bryn's boss how awesome he is, Jackson thought. But would Uncle Bryn's boss listen to him? Jackson doubted it. And anyway, he wasn't sure he was brave enough to face her again. She was one scary penguin.
Jackson glanced around the fish pond. If he knew what the FBI had been doing here, then maybe he could help Uncle Bryn with his mission. That's it! I'll crack this case for him. No way will Uncle Bryn lose his job then. Jackson straightened up. He put his dark glasses back on. "Let's do this!" he said out loud.
But there was one tiny, krill-size problem with this plan. Jackson didn't have the slightest clue what the mission was about.CHAPTER 3
"Jackson! Jackson!" A door burst open and Quigley came rushing out. "Did you just see a whole gang of serious-looking penguin dudes with dark glasses? I passed them in the hall. They looked a lot like —"
"The FBI?" Jackson nodded. "Yeah, they were here, just now."
"Awesome!" Quigley beamed. "Did they see the sled? If not, I got it all on video." He waggled the icePad at Jackson.
"Even the part when you crashed into the albatross. The FBI will love that. It shows you can think on your flippers. But, hey, remind me to add albatross bumpers to the sled for next time."
"Next time — uh?" Jackson raised his eyebrows.
"But the emergency balloons were neat, weren't they?" Quigley puffed up his feathers and grinned. "I saw them inflate with my new bin-ice-ulars." He wafted a pair of frosty-looking eyeglasses at Jackson. "Hard ice crystals make THE best magnification lenses. Want to try them?"
But Jackson was staring at something else — something small and black that was floating in the pond. He reached down into the water. "Uncle Bryn's radio transmitter! He must have dropped it when he got the sled out for me."
Quigley's eyes lit up. "Oooh, a real FBI radio. I'd love to open it up and see what's —"
"Stop!" Jackson moved it out of Quigley's reach. "You can't take it apart. Uncle Bryn needs it. He's already in trouble. If his boss finds out he lost it ..." Jackson shuddered. "Remember the trouble he got into when he lost his fit-any-lock skeleton keys at our house playing flipper ball?"
Quigley nodded. "But you've got to admit they were useful. Those sour squid chews we found in your sister's secret box were awesome."
Jackson grinned. He'd enjoyed snooping around in the bedroom of his grumpy big sister, Finola, and using the spy keys to unlock her secret strongbox and raid her candy stash. Especially when he'd also found his missing flipper-ball trading card inside, the ultra-rare one of super striker Rod Ripped-Hopper that he'd lost ages before. What it was doing inside Finola's strongbox, Jackson had no idea. And even though Finola had exploded when she found out and Jackson's mom had punished him by making him bathe the egg (his soon-to-be sibling) for three days in a row, it had all been worth it to get his flipper-ball card back.
"What was the FBI doing here, anyway?" Quigley asked.
Jackson leaned in closer. "They were on a mission," he whispered. "But Uncle Bryn couldn't tell me what it was about. If we could find out, we could maybe crack the case for them. That would definitely help Uncle Bryn. AND they might let us join. ... Hey," Jackson said, peering across the pond. "Isn't that Lily from school? Yes, it is. HI, LILY!" Jackson waved to a small chinstrap penguin carrying a tray of white tubs and coming through a door marked PRIVATE.
"Oh, hi, Jackson. Hi, Quigley." Lily waddled over. "Are you here for the koi carp feeding time?" She held out a tub of small brown balls.
"Um, yeah," Jackson said. "Thanks. Do you work here?"
"I help my dad on Saturdays. He's a keeper here." Lily sniffled. "But he might not be for much longer." She shuffled her little webbed feet and looked away. "They're blaming him, see."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Spy Penguins"
Copyright © 2018 Sam Hay.
Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My grandson loves this book! He got it for his birthday in September and finished it quickly. He loves it and can't wait for book 2!