Reviews for City spies

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

This thriller reads like Miss Congeniality meets Kingsman, starring Norwegian climate activist Greta Thunberg and Anishinaabe-kwe water protector Autumn Peltierkind of.Puerto Rican-born, Brooklyn-raised Sara isn't expecting much from her court-appointed lawyershe has no reason to put faith in the system that put her in jail after she hacked into the city's computers to expose her foster parents as abusive frauds. But with juvie her only other prospect, Sara takes a leap and agrees to a wild proposition: She'll join Britain's MI6 as a kid operative. When she arrives at the covert facility in Scotland, she meets the other kids the MI6 agent, a white Englishman affectionately called Mother, has taken inall of them, like Sara, have highly developed skills in logic, puzzles, sneakiness, and other useful spy tactics. Mother has a mission for them; he's taking them to Paris to a competition for youth environmental innovation, where their job is to perform just well enough to make it into the top 10 so they can protect the eccentric billionaire sponsor of the contest from an imminent threat. It's a fun romp with timely but superficial things to say about environmental activism, though the recruitment process and messy organization stretches the imagination even with a hardy suspension of disbelief. For a spy story, it's surprisingly interior focused rather than action packed. The cast is technically diverse in ethnic background, but this has next to no influence on the characters. It's fine, but it doesn't live up to its potential as a STEM-plus-caper adventure. (Thriller. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Caught hacking into the NYC juvenile justice system's computers, 12-year-old Sara Martinez faces years in detention centers, but a British secret agent rescues her and takes her to Scotland. There she joins his small, top-secret team of gifted young spies, each recruited from a different continent. Sara, renamed Brooklyn, trains with Paris, Rio, Kat, and Sydney for a few short weeks before joining the team for a mission in Paris. They are realistically wary of their newest member until she earns their trust. Working undercover as students attending a summit on the environment, they plan to break into a secret research facility and outwit an evil genius. A television writer and producer as well as the author of Framed (2016) and its sequels, Ponti writes a well-paced story laced with suspense, wit, and entertaining dialogue. Events unfold within colorful Parisian settings that include the Eiffel Tower, the Catacombs, and a deceptively shabby-looking hotel run by British Intelligence. Laying the groundwork for a new series, this brisk adventure features mysteries, intrigues, and five clever young heroes.--Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2019 Booklist

School Library Journal
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Gr 4–8—This promising new spy fiction series features a diverse team of orphans, each named for the city from which they hail, brought together under the secret auspices of MI5 by a nattily dressed, fast-talking British male agent they call "Mother." This first title follows the recruitment of a 12-year-old Latina girl named Sara, aka Brooklyn, whose mastery of computer hacking proves to be only one of many clever skills she brings to the team. Relying on short, distinct scenes filled with snappy dialogue, multiple viewpoints, settings in a variety of globally important and glamorous cities, and some key well-foreshadowed reveals, Ponti is clearly drawing from his career as a television producer. A disappointingly small amount of action, humor, character development, or even spying happens in this first book, although the heroes do indeed uncover and thwart one evil plan. However, the backstories of the intriguing characters, the emerging relationships among them, and the promise of more to come will no doubt hook fans of such books as Gordon Korman's "Masterminds" or Beth McMullen's "Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls." VERDICT A cinematic and well-crafted start to a new spy series for middle grades.—Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC

Publishers Weekly
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In this action-packed spy novel, 12-year-old Sara Martinez, who is Latinx, faces juvenile detention for hacking into New York City’s juvenile justice computer system to reveal her foster parents’ misdeeds and cruelties. When a mysterious man who calls himself “Mother” appears, posing as her attorney, he persuades the judge to release Sara into his custody, then gives her an option: attend a U.K. boarding school or join the Secret Intelligence Service. Within a few short days, Sara is being trained for a secret mission with one of Britain’s most elite group of spies—all of whom are under the age of 16. Now, Sara uses her impressive knowledge of computers to stop a villain who is planning an attack at a youth environmental summit in Paris. Plotted with an enjoyable amount of suspense, Ponti’s story features a well-drawn cast of kids from around the world forming a chosen family with sibling-like dynamics. A page-turner suited to even the most reluctant readers. Ages 8–12. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Mar.)