cover image Mac Undercover (Mac B., Kid Spy #1)

Mac Undercover (Mac B., Kid Spy #1)

Mac Barnett, illus. by Mike Lowery. Orchard, $12.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-338-14359-1

“One minute you are just a kid. The next minute you are a secret agent for the Queen of England,” deadpans a boy named Mac, who narrates Barnett’s (The Terrible Two) riotous series debut as an adult recalling a 1980s childhood caper, insisting that the story is true. After receiving a call from the Queen tasking him with finding missing Crown Jewels, Mac flies to London. When he arrives at the Tower of London, the Queen suddenly appears, surrounded by a dozen corgis, and distills some British historical jargon, including “regicide” (“my least favorite type of ‘cide,’ ” the monarch quips) before outlining the case. Mac’s madcap quest takes him to Paris and Moscow, where he encounters the French president and a KGB officer before returning the stolen British heirloom and the Mona Lisa. Some unfortunate caricatures—French people portrayed as rude, Soviets yearning for American jeans—may detract from the narrative for some, but goofy, two-color pictures by Lowery (the Doodle Adventures series) ramp up the silliness of this adventure (kids will snicker at the sight of Mac flying home in his tighty-whities), which should snare even the most hesitant readers. Ages 7–10. Author’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. [em](Sept.) [/em]