Thursday 8 November 2012

EJ12 Girl Hero: Kimono Code

Kimono Code (EJ12: Girl Hero) by Susannah McFarlane (Scholastic Australia)
PB RRP $12.99
ISBN 978-1-92193-115-4
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Emma Jacks has a secret. This seemingly average ten year lives a double life. She is a spy in the under 12 division of SHINE, an agency devoted to stamping out evil plots designed to harm the world. Recruited after winning a maths competition, EJ12 (Emma’s spy name) specialises in cracking codes and thinking logically under pressure. While EJ12 is out in the field on a mission she is confident, brave and holds her own. But back at school, Emma has trouble dealing with the mean girl Nema and her constant taunts.

EJ12 Girl Hero is an adventure series for girls, full of secret agents, secret tunnels, evil plots and fabulous spy gadgets. But it is also full of everyday problems, friendship groups and loyalty. And as each mission takes place in a different location around the world, when SHINE battles the evil agency SHADOW, each book also offers interesting cultural facts.

Kimono Code, the 14th in the series, takes place in Japan where EJ12 must do battle with the SHADOW operative behind a string of geishas who infect cherry trees with blossom block. While she is on this mission she learns about Japanese culture, traditions and even picks up a little of the language.

Each book starts and finishes at school, with a problem that Emma needs to address. In Kimono Code she is coming up against Nema in karate competition. Although the mission (which is the middle section of the book) does not solve this problem, it does indirectly help her to manage the issue with Nema, giving Emma a fresh way to look at the situation.

This simple structure works well. It will appeal to 8 to 12 year olds as a fast paced and exciting read for girls. The book has large type and is bound in an attractive and eye catching silver cover which should stand out well on the shelves. For readers who like to be actively involved in solving the mystery, the codes are achievable.

The writing is bright and fun. I really enjoyed the disguises, the plot, the villains and the concept of the charms on Emma’s bracelet. The gadgets are so marvellously over-the-top that I can’t help but think of James Bond.

This book would be fine read as a standalone, but there are plenty in the series for those who get hooked. I’ll be looking at the backlist now.

Keep an eye out for the animals EJ12 seems to acquire in each of the adventures.

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