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The Wig in the Window Hardcover – June 18, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
"We'd only been running night missions since the start of the school year, when Grace had decided twelve was the right age to train for a real FBI career," says seventh-grader Sophie Young about the midnight spy exercises she conducts with her best friend, Grace Yang, in their sleepy town of Luna Vista, Calif. On one such night, they witness what appears to be their odd school counselor, Dr. Charlotte Agford, murdering someone in her kitchen. Armed with gadgets, Grace's full-speed-ahead attitude, and wisdom from Sun Tzu's The Art of War, the none-too-similar best friends work together to solve the mystery, which comes to light through a series of red herrings that maintain tension. First in a planned series, Kittscher's debut novel addresses the inevitable rocky periods in middle-school friendships with perceptiveness, honesty, and well-targeted humor that avoids being cartoonish. The two would-be sleuths navigate one ludicrous predicament after another, and readers should sympathize with the girls as an innocent bit of espionage lands them in some serious hot water. Ages 8-12. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary.
From School Library Journal
Gr 4-7–Twelve-year-old Sophie Young and her best friend, Grace Yang, have been sneaking out of their houses for midnight spy missions in hopes of catching criminals on the FBI's Most Wanted list. What has seemed like a game suddenly becomes serious when they stumble through the yard of Sophie's school counselor and witness her chopping wildly with a cleaver. Although it turns out that Dr. Agford was merely cutting up beets for her latest batch of pickled vegetables, Sophie and Grace still suspect that she is hiding something sinister. As the girls try to discern the truth, Sophie finds herself in situations both awkward and terrifying, and she wonders if her friendship with Grace will last through their investigation. This fast-paced, action-packed romp has all the ingredients of a great mystery, and it does not leave out the angst felt by so many middle schoolers. Readers will see themselves and their friends in Sophie and her classmates, and they will have a difficult time tearing themselves away.–Sarah Reid, Broome County Public Library, Binghamton, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Top Customer Reviews
There is *depth* to this book. Not hit-you-on-the-head-with-Big-Issues kind of depth (although I like those books, too), but subtle depth in every character and situation. Stereotypes are routinely addressed and smashed, and readers will be introduced to the idea of cultural appropriation, perhaps for the first time. Perception is a big theme, and we're constantly re-assessing what we know about the characters and story based on changing information -- something most of us in the real world don't do nearly enough. This theme is so perfectly suited for a mystery plot, where new information is routinely uncovered, making the plot a natural vehicle for self-reflection and growth.
But there are great fight scenes, too, and a ton of unexpected plot twists and reversals. The stakes escalate quickly and ramp up to a thrilling end sequence. Sophie, our main hero, begins the book as a bit of a follower, always taking the lead from her best friend Grace. But their friendship becomes more complicated when Sophie meets a new friend, the amazing Trista, and begins to eventually develop a strength all her own.
This is an empowering, enlightening book in so many ways -- but it's also just plain FUN and laugh-out-loud funny, too. I can't recommend it highly enough. I'll be putting this on my shelf next to Ellen Raskin's THE WESTING GAME.
Sophie Young and Grace Yang are best friends and middle-grade sleuths. But their snooping gets out of hand once they start spying on their suspicious school councilor, Dr Agford (an excellent villain in the tradition of a Roald Dahl baddie.) Dr Agford shows us just how much power adults can wield when you're only in middle school.
The book is a perfect combination of rollicking humor, daring adventure and fun plot twists. But it also has a serious side - the girls' friendship is put to the test - which is handled in a touching and believable way. In particular I love Sophie the protagonist, in the shadow of her best friend, Grace. Over the course of the story she has to learn to trust herself and speak up. Childhood relationships can be bittersweet, people change and grow, and THE WIG IN THE WINDOW doesn't shy away from examining the truth about changing friendships.
Kittscher weaves in just the right amount of `heart' to her adventure as the final, thrilling act races to its conclusion. A delight to read from start to finish, I'm very much looking forward to the girls' next caper, THE TIARA ON THE TERRACE.
However, there seems to be a simple explanation for all of it and Sophie gets in serious trouble for sneaking out of the house and making the phone call against the adult. But things still seem off. Is Dr. Agford up to something? Can Sophie and Grace figure it out without getting into more trouble? Will their friendship hold up under the strain?
The book started well, and I was pulled in from the start. But as it went along, I was pulled into the story more and more. I always had a hard time putting it down as I had to see what would happen next. Events unfolded logically and believably right through the dramatic climax.
Sophie and Grace are great lead characters. They and a new friend, Trista, are the best developed characters, although the rest of the cast gets the development they need to make their characters believable. Well, I should also mentioned that Dr. Agford gets some good development as well, but obviously not in the same way. And I have to give a shout out to Grace being homeschooled, something I enjoyed since I was homeschooled myself.
This is a debut mystery that is set to start a series. It will be a hard book to top, but I can't wait to see how the author tries. I will definitely be back to visit Sophie and Grace again in the future.
NOTE: I was sent an ARC for this book in exchange for my honest review.