Recon Academy: Shadow Cell Scam by Chris Everheart, illustrated by Arcana Studio, 2009, 59 pgs, RL: 1.7 - Each member of the Recon Academy has been sold a fantastic new laptop but soon they discover they are ticking bombs. At the same time the Navy is launching a secret spy satellite nearby and the team has been too busy to provide any security but now they rush to save themselves and the satellite from the Shadow Cell. This book features on the lone female in the four member group, Emmi, whose special skill is martial arts. Very intricate, exciting story with an involved plot which is suitable for the publisher's recommended ages 8-13. The artwork is well done and reminiscent of what one finds in cartoon shows of this nature. The book is much harder to read than the 1.7 RL would have you believe with such phrases as "they're only prototypes", "time to decrypt their code" and "heat detection monitor". With my son's reading level we had to do shared reading, with me reading the harder words but the story was definitely a hit with him. He wants to read all four books. Fortunately we have one more at home, then we'll be off to the library!
Recon Academy: Nuclear Distraction by Chris Everheart, illustrated by Arcana Studio, 2009, 55 pgs, RL: 1.9 - This book features Hazmat whose special skill is forensics but as we start off he participating in a karate tournament which Emmi has been training him for. They soon receive a call that there has been a security breach at a nearby nuclear power plant. The four member group is on their way and who do they find on the scene but the Shadow Cell. Here they are all put to the test, but Hazmat is put front and centre as he rushes straight into the danger alone where he uses his forensic skills, new found karate moves, faces close death and ends up with a date. A very exciting installment in the series. My son is anxious to read the other two books in the series. Once again though the book is much harder to read than the 1.9 RL would have you believe and with my son's reading level we had to do shared reading, with me also reading the harder words. I enjoyed the way the 'date' was handled. My son is 9 so this idea creeped him out. While the one boy with the date smooth talks about his upcoming evening there is an opposing character who "oh brother's" him all the time adding a comic relief for kids who are younger. This series is very suitable for a wide range of ages and would be perfect for older struggling readers. I'd recommend this right up to Grade 6.