Review Blog

Jan 20 2016

The League of Unexceptional Children by Gitty Daneshvari

cover image

Ill. by James Lancett. Little, Brown, 2015. ISBN 9780316405706
(Age: 8-10) Themes Spies, Adventure. Who are the League of Unexceptional Children? American author Gitty Daneshvari introduces a new spy series where two average, ordinary children are selected to find the kidnapped Vice President of the United States. Her premise is that they will be able to train as secret agents and quietly slip into dangerous situations. This is a difficult concept to portray and one which makes the narrative difficult to engage with.
Shelley's character may be invisible at school, but her funky clothes and habit of saying funny things, in fact, makes her more unique than mediocre. Jonathan is portrayed as terribly dull, even his bedroom is dowdy and his teacher doesn't even know he's in class.
Nurse Maidenkirk, who's always recounting strange medical situations, and Hammett Humphries, head of the league, call the children out of class and explain why they have been chosen. Shelley and Jonathan are extremely surprised. The League headquarters is hidden behind Famous Randy's Hot Dog Palace, with access through the meat fridge. Modern technology is frowned upon and old-fashioned spying methods are taught.
When two British exceptional child spies arrive to assist the two unexceptional spies, the pace picks up, with a kidnapping, drama at the Museum and a final confrontation at the children's playground. James Lancett's drawings of spy identity cards are strategically placed as the chapter headings.
Rhyllis Bignell

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