Cover Image: City Spies

City Spies

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Member Reviews

James Ponti is a master at creating mysteries kids want to read. His "Framed!" series is a favorite with our 3/4 graders and this new series and set of characters has the same appeal.

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This fast-paced tale is a sure-fire start to a new series! Please, Mr. Ponti? Clever kids use their special talents to take down evil as the author turns their bad situations toward good. What could be better? I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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James Ponti is at his best yet! This middle grades novel is sure to appeal to a variety of students and is a sure pick for any collection.

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Thank you to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster for an ARC of City Spies for an honest review. This is the first in a series about phenomenal children gathered around the world to spy for the British Intelligence agency. Each spy has a special talent and as a result this story provides a model of team work. The settings are fascinating and as with all spy novels- far- fetched, but in an entertaining and believable way. The main strength is the characters. It is a true ensemble that you as the reader want to be part of experiencing. Readers will find themselves on the edge of their seats- cheering on the good guys. Even if your reader has read other kid spy novels- they will want to add this series to their repertoire. I highly recommend this series for upper elementary to middle school readers.

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I really enjoyed this book. There was a lot of adventure and intrigue. An orphan who was not so happy where she was currently placed and facing years without her beloved computer finds herself in an exciting new boarding school. A school that is a cover for a group of kids who are international spies who need to save the world from the evils that lurk out there.

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City Spies by James Ponti: As a huge fan of middle grade spy books, this is one I am going to definitely add to my recommendation list for those who love Alex Rider and other adventure books like that. Ponti did a great job developing an amazing team of teens that you connect to and root for!

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I received this ARC from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

City Spies is another novel that gives home to a group of children who have otherwise struggled to find a place in the world. I think this one will be popular with many middle grade readers. The group works with MI6 and is tasked with trying to stop The Purple Thumb in this tale. The story moves quickly, and like a kid version of Ocean's Eleven, each of the children has a talent that has secured his or her spot on the team. This book lends itself to a series and I hope to see more of the City Spies in the future.

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LOVED this fast-paced MG spy adventure! This would be the perfect next step for fans of the 39 Clues series. The characters are smart, witty, and immediately likable, and I loved the international settings. Most importantly, the plot was incredibly smart and kept me guessing the whole time. Can’t wait for book 2!

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City Spies is the perfect book to hand those kids who want adventure and humor! With a beautifully diverse cast of characters, and the tease of more stories to come, this is sure to be a favorite of many! Honestly, it reminded me of a really great after-school cartoon series, back when those were a thing! Fast-paced, stretching reality, and putting kids right in the middle of a dangerous, exciting mystery. Well-written with witty dialogue and intriguing characters, while still connecting to readers, this will be a terrific read-aloud, book club read, or addition to any school and classroom library. Perfect for kids 4th grade and up, although some 3rd graders would easily enjoy it as well!

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James Ponti is quickly becoming a "one to watch" on my reading spectrum. He hit reader gold with his prior "Framed" series and this follow-up series is just as good. He is to middle grade action/adventure stories as Mary Downing Hahn is to middle grade ghost stories....i.e. a Master.

Brooklyn (aka Sara) is awaiting a juvenile court trial for illegal computer hacking which will most certainly remand her to a detention facility for the foreseeable future when a stranger swoops into her holding cell and takes charge of her case. Moments before her appearance before the judge, Brooklyn is told the stranger is not really an attorney, but wants her to trust him in exchange for her freedom. Many "Probablies" are involved, but as the stranger says, "probablies" are a part of life. Brooklyn goes with her gut instinct and trusts the stranger and soon after finds herself in a limousine being told the stranger's (now known as "Mother") story. He invites her to join a special secret team of MI6 (the British Intelligence Agency) comprised of young teenagers. They have an impending mission and needed one more team member who has superior computer skills. Brooklyn, with nothing better to do and now where to really go, accepts the invitation and off to Paris the team goes to guard the world from the bad guys.

Super engaging story with interesting characters and just enough dangling storylines to promise the start of a new series. I will definitely be promoting this book with my upper elementary students who love Roland Smith, Stuart Gibbs, and Anthony Horowitz's Alex Ryder series.

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I first read Ponti's work, when hosting a student mystery book club, with the librarian at my school. I read the first few chapters of his "Framed" series aloud; it hooked me, and it hooked a few others.

This book has the same great captivating writing, with some wonderful characters. The main characters are kids whose varied skills lend themselves to the spy business.

We are introduced to Sara, when she is brought to a court in NYC. Sara is a foster child, and she is suddenly represented by an attorney who isn't part of the public defender system.
This introduction, his getting her out of the juvenile justice system, and flying to a new location overseas, starts her new life as a spy.

It is a compelling, yet very fun read, and I highly recommend it for children, and all who love MG or YA books.

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What a fabulous start to a new series! I adored this book and can't wait to read more of their adventures. This was definitely one of those books that I didn't want to put down.

The story starts by introducing the reader to Sara Martinez. She is on trial for hacking into the NYC Foster care system to show that her current foster parents are scamming the system and are horrible to the kids. Fast forward a bit and Mother shows up, gets her out of jail, and whisks her off to Scotland to be a part of a secret MI6 spy group of kids.

She becomes a part of a special team made up of 4 other kids from various backgrounds with codenames of where they are from - Paris, Rio, Sydney, and Kat. Their individual talents work together perfectly to make them a team, once they learn how to get along with and trust each other. Together they are working on a mission to participate in a youth science summit in order to protect the sponsor from a villain. Things never go as planned, but this team of course wins the day.

In addition to it being a fun mystery and spy adventure, the book is also about respecting your own personal talents, being a part of a team, and finding ways to get past your insecurities. It is also about the power of using your talents for the good of all rather than to just make yourself richer. A great start that I can't wait to read more of!

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In the first book of hopefully many more, we meet Sarah, a foster child who has gotten herself into serious hot water for rebelling against the wrongs in the system. She is rescued by Mother, a man posing as a lawyer who turns out to be a spy who recruits children with special skills to help him right the wrongs in the missions they encounter. He has assembled a select group from many parts of the world, and as they learn about each other and how to respect their differences, they are called upon to solve a case involving a youth summit and the enigmatic man who is sponsoring the event. Fans of the Spy School series should enjoy the adventures of this intrepid group and I would highly recommend this book to them. A totally fun read!

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This is a fast paced and smart story. Brooklyn and the cast of characters are intriguing, full of talent, and have a varied history. I like how Mother (and how Mother is a He!) found each of the characters to bring into the fold as well as his own back story. The spying is clever and full of twists. This is an engaging story that will appeal to many readers.

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Packed with thrilling adventure from start to finish, City Spies brings 12-year-old Sara Martinez, aka Brooklyn, from the clutches of foster care mistreatment and imminent time in detention centers to high level security spying in Britain. As a young hacker, Sara has infiltrated the NYC juvenile justice system to bring justice of her own; then meets "Mother" a secret agent from M-16 who recruits her "skills" to be a part of an operation at an international youth summit. Many twist and turns throughout the chapters keep the reader guessing. Sara's interactions with her teammates from all over the world are true to middle graders working together to complete their missions. Can they save the world? If you are a fan of Stuart Gibb's Spy School series, City Spies should be on your reading list too!

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10 out of 10 for another clever mystery from James Ponti! Filled with memorable characters, this fun and fast-paced read will be very popular for fans of his other work and mystery lovers in general!

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Much like his other books this book will be great for middle grade readers who like action and fun characters.

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Sarah Martinez hacked into the New York City foster care system to expose her foster parents as cheats and lawbreakers, but she was the one that would be punished. Mother, the man collecting troubled tweens and teens with extraordinary skills that can be useful for MI6, recruited her right out of the courtroom. Operating out of Scotland, Mother and his team have to use their unique skills to get Sarah up to speed in joining them on their next mission. The group has to go to Paris for an international youth summit, protecting the summit’s sponsor and try to stop the terrorists attacking similar meetings.

The premise for City Spies is fascinating, and it’s the start of a new series. Kids always feel that they know things that adults don’t, but these are kids that actually do. Sarah is a talented hacker, and she also has keen observation skills honed by years in the foster system. When she’s recruited into the organization, she takes on the name Brooklyn, as the kids use names based on cities they’re from to hide their actual identities. The others are gifted at various skills and had similar hardscrabble origins. That doesn’t stop them from being teenagers, with some difficulty handling new kids, secrets, and being seen for their talents. These issues are larger than those most tweens would have, but that feeling is universal and one that they will be able to commiserate with.

The adults in the book, for the most part, are understanding and supportive, treating the kids like adults where they can and like children at other times. It’s a hard balance to strike with kids, but Mother and the others that usually work with the kids manage it well. The spy aspect is introduced to the reader as Sarah is introduced to the group, and the kids all get their time to showcase their talents before the big summit. It’s only because of their different skills and backgrounds that they’re even able to uncover ways to approach the mission, as well as the actual culprit.

This is a wonderfully self-contained story that wraps up the immediate story it wants to tell. The plot hooks are there for the rest of the series, however. Mysteries abound with Umbra, Mother’s ex and his hidden children, as well as the other City Spies. They might get along well and enjoy each others’ company, but that doesn’t mean their stories are complete. I really look forward to future novels in this series.

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I really enjoyed the premise of the book and action within it. I've always enjoyed Ponti's work and that's why I was excited to get a preview before it was released. I think it will really appeal to kids and the action was intriguing and realistic. I mean who doesn't want to be a kid spy?! I thought most of the characters were great and were well developed. I wasn't in love with the main character, Brooklyn. She was too forward for my liking, but I guess that was just her trying to be portrayed as a New Yorker. There are still a few loose ends, but that's because there will be additional titles published in the series. The potential "virus" aspect hits close to home with the current global crisis outbreak of COVID-19 occurring right now. I think many kids will enjoy Ponti's book and I will definitely recommend it to kids, especially middle grade and tweens, looking for adventure/action/mysteries.

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This was a delightful book. I want to be part of the FARM. Where do I sign up? Fast spaced. The young James Bond's will enjoy this.

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