Review Blog

Mar 22 2019

Kensy and Max Undercover by Jacqueline Harvey

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Kensy and Max, book 3. Random House, 2019. ISBN: 9780143791904.
(Age: 9-12) Highly recommended. Themes: Brothers and sisters, Spies, Mysteries, Missing persons. After a week's intensive training in spy craft, eleven-year-old twins Kensy and Max return to their London home to begin the new school term. Kensy's unsettled and distracted behaviour, thinking of her missing parents and grandparents, leads to an unfortunate explosion in the school laboratory. When a second blast destroys their grandmother's seven storey house, Kensy and Max are packed off to Sydney to escape the espionage.
Granny Cordelia sends the twins to far away Sydney, Australia from the danger; their new mission focuses on uncovering the troubles and problems their grandmother's best friend's family are facing. They are sent to infiltrate Van and Ellery Chalmers' posh private school and watch the children. With Song the butler and Fitz as their guardian and protector, Kensy and Max soon settle in to Sydney life. Secret coded messages from their parents encourage the children to keep on going. Fitz is disguised as the new PE teacher and the twins placed in Year 5 and 6, Van and Ellery Chalmers' classes. Counterpoint to this main story, we gain insight into the whereabouts of the missing grandparents and their captivity. Kensy and Max's spy skills come in to play, with the accompaniment of their affable next-door neighbour Curtis whose knowledge of transport and locations is very beneficial. Max's discovery of his cricket skills also proves valuable. The reasons behind Mrs Chalmers' secretive behaviour, hiding resources to help her escape with her children also become apparent.
Jacqueline Harvey's 'Undercover' delivers another fast-paced story. She is the master of creating exciting characters, set in the backdrop of her familiar home-town Sydney. She is not afraid to deal with bullying, industrial espionage, chemical warfare and domestic abuse. The author continues to develop significant themes of friendship, sibling loyalty, creative problem solving and personal growth.
Undercover is another brilliant read, complete with spy craft and code cracking, proving to be another winner for the preteen and young teen audience.
Rhyllis Bignell

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