One of my great finds from the Book Expo this year was discovering that Sleeping Bear Press, the publisher whose picture books we here at 5 Minutes for Books have all come to love, also publishes middle grade/YA novels (Dawn reviewed Fat Boy Chronicles last month). One of the very first books that I read from my BEA bounty was I,Q: Independence Hall. Amanda (age 11) was thrilled to read it as well.
It’s the first in a new series by Roland Smith. In I,Q: Independence Hall we meet Angela, age 15, and Quinn (also known as “Q”), 13. Their parents have recently gotten married, and also recently recorded a smash hit single. Quinn and Angela quickly have to get to know each other as they embark on a nationwide concert tour in a fancy RV. But this is not a story about music. It’s a story about spies, terrorism, and secrets.
They don’t see too much of their parents who have become overnight sensations, and so their trusted roadie Boone takes them under his wing. However they soon find out that he’s more than just a roadie. It seems that he’s a spy.
They discover that Angela’s mother, a former secret service agent who was killed in the line of duty, has a twin sister who has been involved in terrorist acts, and Angela and Q get involved in helping to figure out who and why are after them/their parents.
The whole story takes place over a few days, and reminded me a lot of 24, with cool surveillance gadgets, terrorists, and yes guns. People are killed and wounded, but none of it is described blow by blow. It occurs “off-screen,” but those who are worried about exposing their kids to violence will likely avoid it. It didn’t bother Amanda (or me), and I feel comfortable recommending it to older tweens.
If the first book reminded me of 24, the second book is even more similar to the hit TV show, taking place in the White House, and actually occurring over a 24-hour period. I, Q: The White House contains slightly less violence than the first novel, so might be suitable for slightly younger audiences. However, terrorism is still a major theme, which would probably be scary and confusing to a reader too young to be able to handle the violence. As the title suggests, this story takes place in the White House. The President has two kids, Brittany, a teenager who has been fulfilling the social responsibilities of the First Lady since her mother’s death, and PK (“President’s Kid”), age 10, who is wise beyond his years.
The White House is always an interesting setting, because I think people wonder what it would really be like to live there.
Angela is getting closer to figure out the details about her mother’s past, but she and Q are still in danger as they have to help figure out who the mole in the White House is.
I am very happy to introduce this series with you. I know it will appeal to suspense-loving kids who appreciate smart, snappy dialogue, and both Amanda and I can’t wait to read about Q and Angela’s next predicament.
I think it’s a highly original concept for older Middle Grade and younger Young Adult readers. For that matter, if you are an adult who enjoys spy thrillers, yet don’t like the violence or language that usually goes along with them, you will probably enjoy these books yourself.
I’m even more excited to say that Sleeping Bear Press has offered up a copy of each of these books to two readers. Please leave a comment if you’d like to win (U.S. residents only), and we’ll announce the winners in our August 18 giveaway post.The giveaway is closed.