cover image Chasing the Falconers

Chasing the Falconers

Gordon Korman, . . Scholastic/Apple, $4.99 (154pp) ISBN 978-0-439-65136-3

Korman gets his On the Run series off to a snappy start with this quick-moving caper. Fifteen-year-old Aiden Falconer and his 11-year-old sister, Meg, have been exiled to a juvenile detention center in rural Nebraska since their parents were sentenced to life in prison. (They are criminologists who were recruited by the CIA to help identify international terrorist sleeper cells, and were falsely convicted of treason.) The siblings believe they can clear their parents' names if only they can track down Frank Lindenauer, an old family friend and CIA operative who recruited the couple and then disappeared. But first Aiden and Meg must escape from the center. They get their chance when Aiden inadvertently starts a fire, and the ensuing chaos allows them to slip away into the night. The twists and turns of their mission and the police in hot pursuit contribute to a pageturner of a plot. A few coincidences and some implausible luck cut into the tale's credibility, but its deftly honed suspense and the protagonists' likable personalities will keep kids hooked. Though they may feel let down by the story's dangling conclusion, readers are apt to reach for the series' next installment, The Fugitive Factor (0-439-65137-9), due out in June. Ages 9-12. (Apr.)