Katie and Jake are spending summer vacation with Aunt Jean on the farm. She has many portraits of their relatives hanging on the wall, and she says that Katie and Jake carry the wanderlust gene that Great-Grandpa Henry had.
With the help of their dog, Cooper, Katie and Jake find a manhole cover with a handle in the yard and pull it up to find Dirk from Holland climbing out. Their conversation and a mysterious noise leads Katie and Jake to investigate Aunt Jean’s attic, where they find a talking trunk, some mysterious items and two purple bracelets that allow them to become Undercover Kids like Dirk.
Katie, Jake and Cooper travel through the tunnel where they first saw Dirk and end up in Holland where they learn more about the Dutch. Cooper disappears and Katie, Jake and Dirk must find him before their time runs out and Katie and Jake are forced to return home without him.
I see a lot of potential in this new series. It’s an excellent way for young readers to learn about the world around them while Katie and Jake meet people and perform good deeds along the way. The one thing I found confusing is that the book starts in present tense, then changes to past tense and occasionally switches through the story. This interupted the flow of the prose at times.
While Katie and Jake learn a great deal about Holland and the Dutch culture once they travel through the tunnel, the middle is a bit lacking in conflict until Cooper disappears and the kids must race against time to to find him. If Cooper’s disappearance had happened earlier in the story and the bad guy didn’t give up so easily, the conflict would have carried the story and made it seem less like a history and geography lesson hidden in a book.
The illustrations by Karen Donnelly were superb and added the perfect visual touch to engage the reader.
Overall I enjoyed the first book in this series, as will many young readers, especially adventure lovers. Readers will also have the opportunity to influence the direction of the series by mailing their own stories of 500 words or fewer featuring Katie, Jake and Cooper for a chance to win prizes. This contest is open to all children between the ages of 8 and 12. You can find out more at The Undercover Kids’ website.
Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂