cover image Spell Robbers

Spell Robbers

Matthew J. Kirby. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-545-50226-9

When grandmotherly Dr. Hughes’s afterschool science camp turns out to be a training ground for “Actuators,” 12-year old Ben’s life becomes much more interesting. Using quantum mechanics and augmenting equipment, he learns to manipulate his thoughts to create clouds, rain, and lightning. After two groups of rival scientists, the Dread Cloaks and the Quantum League, discover that Dr. Hughes has invented a “portable augmenter,” Ben is enmeshed in a power struggle of cosmic dimensions. Kirby (The Lost Kingdom) infuses this action-packed spy thriller with layers of moral ambiguity. Identified as an actuating prodigy, Ben struggles to decipher how to manage his gifts and which side to use them for, knowing his choice has high stakes. Although tempted to believe one leader’s warning—“Evil people can do great harm with very little power.... We are not perfect, but we are all the world has”—Ben questions the dogma and tactics of all combatants. This first book in the Quantum League series provides satisfying partial closure, while intriguing storylines to be developed will leave readers eager for the next installment. Ages 8–12. Agent: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency. (Feb.)