Secret safari by Susannah McFarlane
EJ12 Girl Hero series, book 12. Scholastic/Lemon Fizz Media, 2012.
(Ages: 8-10) Emma Jacks can't wait for the school holidays so she can get away from school for a while and stop worrying for two weeks. Not only is she concerned that she won't make it into the A netball team with her friends but her archenemy Nema now has an ally in the unfriendly new girl, Laila. However, Emma's chances of a lazy holiday spent on the couch are dashed when her mum wins a family trip to Africa. What only Emma and her mother know is that the prize holiday is a cover-up. Emma, known in the spy world as EJ 12, and her mother, SJ 45 are Special Agents for the Shine Agency and are being sent on a secret mission to put a stop to an evil scheme being carried out by the debauched spy agency, Shadow. Not only does EJ know that her mean schoolmate Nema works for Shadow but by the end of the book she starts to wonder whether the close relationship between Nema and Laila is indicative of more than just a mutual nastiness.
This is a pleasant series as it fills a real gap left by the fairy, kitten, princess and ballerina books which are targeted to females of this age range. This is an easy to read novel which portrays the oft fantasised 'double-life' of a child's dreams. The world of Shine and spies is almost a fantasy world, filled as it is with camouflage charms and animal food dispensers that magically produce bottles of milk suitable for feeding to baby cheetahs. However this is exactly what is required when you are transporting young girls into a parallel world and transforming them into their super spy alter-ego!