cover image Howie Bowles, Secret Agent

Howie Bowles, Secret Agent

Kate Banks. Farrar Straus Giroux, $15 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-374-33500-7

Banks's (And If the Moon Could Talk; Spider Spider) slim chapter book introduces eight-year-old Howie, who feels nervous about starting a new school in the middle of his third-grade year. When, after the first day, the boy has trouble making friends, he adopts the identity of Secret Agent Bean Burger (so named for his favorite dinner menu) and things improve. The next day, after his mother drops off his lunch bag with his new name displayed, Secret Agent Bean Burger is summoned over the P.A. system to pick up his lunch, convincing his classmates that he is on assignment. Howie's first big case is to discover who is leaving wads of green bubble gum on the water fountain. Making the solution especially sticky--and far-fetched--is the sleuth's discovery that the culprit is the principal. Youngsters who have recently made or are facing a move to a new school may well identify with Howie's anxieties, yet his unlikely coping mechanism isn't apt to provide much comfort. Ages 6-8. (Oct.)