When a peculiar advertisement appears in the newspaper for children to take part in a secret mission, children everywhere sit a series of mysterious tests.
In the end, just four children succeed: Reynie, Kate, Sticky and Constance. They have three things in common: they are all honest, all remarkably talented, and all orphans.
They must go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened where the only rule is that there are no rules. There they must work as a team to save not only themselves, but also the world outside the walls.
This is an impressive story with a poignant message about the power of the media and its control over people’s minds and actions, and four children who are brave enough to resist it. And it’s an absorbing adventure from the first page.
Older teens might find its style a little too didactic (the plot isn’t quite as believable as other media parodies), but for younger readers it could spark discussions about the power of commercial media and the false freedom it sells. Highly recommended.
Clare Cannon lives in Sydney where she is the manager of Portico Books.