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Summary: Jack Stalwart, like his brother Max before him, has joined the Global Protection Force. Through the wizardry of secret agent gizmos, Jack comes to Manhattan, NY, to help a museum curator find a missing dinosaur bone. His suspect: a student who is working on a science fair project with DNA. Just as Jack was about to close in, he discovers that his suspect has tested his theory about dinosaur DNA on his dog. Now the two of them must stop a deadly rampage in New York City. Can they do it? This is the first title in this adventure series for emerging and reluctant readers.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, family reading, read aloud book, short chapter, illustrated chapter, reluctant reader, transitional reader
Recommended Age: read together: 6 to 10; read yourself: 7 to 12
Interest Level: 6 to 12
Age of Child: Read by an 8-year-old boy.
Young Reader Reaction: The fast paced action in this reader kept my kid reader engaged and he finished the book in one sitting.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a fast read (it took me about an hour or so). Although it is not quite the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew mysteries I remember, it is still an enjoyable read. The author has done a nice job weaving in actual learning points: forensics, geography, and problem solving.
Second reviewer: I was a little put off by the 11 pages of detail at the front of the book and the temptation is to skip that part. It does contain helpful information in setting the stage for what happens in the story. With the cool illustrations and title, it didn’t surprise me that my 8-year-old reader jumped right into this book.
Pros: This illustrated chapter book has everything you need to help struggling readers: lots of action, a mystery to solve, and great gizmos. The learning elements are blended into the plot well. The book moves quickly through adventure after adventure, all connected to the main story line. Jack's gadgets are also a real appeal for today’s savvy kids who also live in a world of gadgets.
Cons: The material is designed for a young reader or someone who is looking for a quick read. The eleven pages at the front of the book could have been condensed or eliminated in some cases.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. The fact that this book is the first in a series (and that the author provides the first chapter of the next book as a tickler is sure to create fans who will read every book. I’d recommend this for classroom libraries or the public library although I’m not sure I would buy it for my own library. It seems more the type of book you’d read once and then go on in the series, rather than reading it over and over again.
Educational Themes: The author artfully weaves in geography, some science, and creative problem solving. You can build on those separate from the story, particularly if your child is interested in maps, dinosaurs, and technology. This book could be used in conjunction with social studies or science when studying New York City or dinosaurs. Excerpts could also be used in writing instruction, modeling the use of dialogue, what introductions and conclusions look like and in vocabulary instruction (the author uses good word choice in her writing), especially in the descriptive parts.
Notes: These transitional readers are also available in Spanish.
Literary Categories: Fiction - adventure, fantasy, series
Date(s) Reviewed: October 2007, December 2007
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