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The Secret of Rover Review by Kendra Fletcher

Rachel Wildavsky
Abrams Books
(212) 206-7715
115 West 18th Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10011

I am the homeschooling mother of eight children, and by default I have a whole variety of personality types, interests, and students. Call me delusional, but I thought all this excellent time I spent reading aloud to them, all the great books they were reading, and all the emphasis we place on reading in our home, would naturally fashion kids who devoured books and loved to read. I was wrong, at least a little bit. All of my kids love being read to, but so far two of them are not the type to grab a book in a moment of quiet, and they would rather be doing almost anything other than reading if they have free time.

Rachel Wildavsky's intrigue book for tweens, The Secret of Rover, entered our home and immediately I knew exactly which child would get to read it. Abby is one of my two who don't love to read. She's 12, in the 7th grade, and she loves adventure, so I thought The Secret of Rover might just be up her alley.

Twins Katie and David must try to find and free their parents and baby sister, who were taken captive because their parents invented a spy technology called Rover that can locate anyone in the world. They race across the country, find an uncle they've never met, and outwit an international team of insurgents. Sounds like a fast-paced nail-biter, and that's exactly what Abby loved about it. She told me, "This book is very unpredictable and when you think one thing is going to happen it doesn't!" then she added, "I loved reading The Secret of Rover and hope Rachel Wildavsky writes more like it."

Turns out, Ms. Wildavsky is a perfect author for a book about international espionage, where the main characters make their home in Washington, DC. She is a former journalist who has written for the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, among many other publications. She has also worked for the White House under two presidents.

Your adventure-loving middle school students might just like the interesting tale told in The Secret of Rover, too. Plus, if you, like me, have reluctant readers, you might be hard-pressed to find a book that would pull them in and keep them reading quite as well as this one. It's clean, as noted by the Wall Street Journal's Review, "Somehow, even as the action heads toward its big conclusion, it all happens without expletives." Abby did tell me to let you know, however, that there are a few times when the term "Oh my G--" is used, and that may not be acceptable to read in some of your homes.

Is it excellent literature on par with the classics? Not really. It has, however, been reviewed favorably by such literature publications as the School Library Journal (a starred review), The Washington Examiner, and Booklist. Everyone needs a story that can transport and inspire them out of pure, clean fun every once in a while, and maybe this will be the summer your reluctant reader falls in love with a book.

Product Review by Kendra Fletcher, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2012