There is something rotten at the core of top spy agency Spectrum. One of it’s agents appears to want Ruby dead. Who? Why? Will they rue the day they crossed Ruby Redfort, the smartest, bravest secret agent ever? Congratulations to Lauren Child, who’s just been appointed our new Children’s Laureate. The hugely successful creator of Charlie & Lola, and the irrepressible Clarice Bean, now turns her versatile talents to 9+ adventure-crazy girls.
In best children’s story tradition, Ruby’s parents are kept well away from the action, their benign parental neglect suiting Ruby’s secret agent lifestyle perfectly. In this adventure, not only is she dealing with unknown enemies, but also old adversaries, most notably, the sinister Count Von Viscount.
‘…goodness has deserted the Count, his hangers on are a murky soup of the vile and unhinged’
I do love a dastardly villain. Brilliantly, in my view, the action is set in the 1970’s. This means that the most high-tech we get is a super-speedy bike with unpuncturable tyres. And accessing secret files means physically seeking them out. No cyberspace here thanks. There may be no Tech to speak but we do get a bunch of spoofy gadgetry. The ringing bar of soap that’s a telephone, toast that pops up uninvited, bearing a message, the Bond-esque escape watch.
Death-defying moments and outrageous coincidences add to the fun. Ruby is a true believer in following your instincts. Applying this attitude to second guessing the plot, led to all my hunches being hopelessly wrong. These villains are truly elusive.
Being a champion code cracker, Ruby is set various fiendish puzzles throughout the book, as is the intrepid reader. The brain stretching even continues with the posing of an ethical thought question. Wow.
An admiring round of applause then, for spirited and ambitious girlhood. Start with Book One: Look Into My Eyes.
Ruby Redfort: Blink and You Die is published by Harper Collins Children’s Books, 560 pages.