cover image Milo Speck, Accidental Agent

Milo Speck, Accidental Agent

Linda Urban, illus. by Mariano Epelbaum. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-544-41951-3

“Scrawny” Milo Speck gets even scrawnier after he goes searching for a missing sock in the dryer and is yanked into a world of giant ogres who, as in Jack and the Beanstalk, aren’t averse to grinding the bones of humans who come their way. When Milo discovers that his father may be in Ogregon, too, he tries to find his bearings in this dangerous world and attempt a rescue. The story’s fantasy elements are a departure for Urban (The Center of Everything), but readers who are familiar with her books will recognize her characteristic attentiveness to characters’ emotional lives; Milo’s disequilibration in Ogregon only intensifies as he has to rethink everything he believes about his family (including his mother’s disappearance a year earlier). As the progressing plot incorporates secret agents, giant turkeys, household appliances, and song-and-dance numbers, the story begins to take on a kitchen-sink feeling, but its clever humor and daring rescues will keep readers glued to Milo’s adventures and hoping for future ones. Ages 9–12. Author’s agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Sept.)