Playing With Fire

Hardcover | June 25, 2013

byBruce HaleIllustratorBrandon Dorman

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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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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, c...

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 asSnoring BeautyandMoki and...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 8.75 × 6 × 1.25 inPublished:June 25, 2013Publisher:Disney-HyperionLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:142316850X

ISBN - 13:9781423168508

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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)-Kirkus