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“A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever.”
Summary: Maddy and Benji Hitchcock have plans for the summer … and so does their dad. The Hitchcocks of Chicago are swapping houses with the Xavier Vadim family of Paris, France. Tres fun, oui? Everyone but Dad sees it as a disaster, and their fears are confirmed when the Vadims arrive in Chicago early: Mom, Dad, goth teen girl, and 3-year-old boy! What on earth will they find when they get to Paris? Let’s just say its an adventure! This is a mystery / spy novel for preteens.
Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book, reluctant reader
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 10; read yourself: 9 and up
Interest Level: 9 and up
Reading Level: 3.8
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: The family dynamics are spot on, and the story moves fast with plenty of day-in-the-life humor. What makes the story particularly fun is the way that many of the misconceptions — often dropped into the story by Maddy — unravel. Upon arriving in Paris, the Hitchcocks unwittingly land in the middle of an international police investigation. The best part of the story is that not only do you learn more about the characters, you see that they learn about themselves and each other, too!
Pros: Any preteen who has a younger sibling will love this! Parents of pre-teens and teens will enjoy it, too! Suspense and mystery are balanced and yet keep pace with the events themselves.
Cons: None. I hope there are more adventures coming.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This would make a great gift for a pre-teen mystery lover.
Educational Themes: This is a book meant to be read aloud for fun. There are plenty of chances to talk about the characters' personalities and also try to predict what will happen next.
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - family, adventure, mystery, France
Date(s) Reviewed: April 2012, April 2013
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.