School for Spies Book One Playing with Fire

School for Spies Book One Playing with Fire

3.96 (322 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Illustrated by 

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Juvenile delinquent and budding pyromaniac Max Segredo belongs in juvie hall. At least, that's what his most recent foster family would tell you. Instead, Max ends up on the doorstep of Merry Sunshine Orphanage-their very heavily guarded doorstep. As he begins to acclimate to his new home, Max learns a few things straightaway: first, cracking a Caesar Cipher isn't as hard as it seems; second, never sass your instructor if she's also holding throwing knives; and third, he may not be an orphan after all. Soon, Max and the rest of the students are sent on a mission to keep a dangerous weapon out of the hands of LOTUS, an international group bent on world domination. Of course, all Max cares about is finding out more about his father, the man he's now sure is still alive. As the stakes get higher, Max must make some difficult choices, including who to trust, and finally learns the true meaning of family.
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Product details

  • 9-12
  • Hardback | 308 pages
  • 147 x 211 x 30mm | 476g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 142316850X
  • 9781423168508

Review quote

Gr 4-8 Thirteen-year-old Max Segredo is accused of starting a fire, which gets him displaced from yet another foster home. His caseworker takes him to live in Merry Sunshine Orphanage and, in just a few hours, Max begins to see that this is no ordinary home. With classes in lock picking and mixed martial arts, he soon discovers that it is a training school for spies. Someone slips him a cryptic message stating that his father is still alive and another one saying that his father needs help. Max meets a variety of characters at the institution and, living in close quarters, they develop a bond, giving him a family. Nevertheless he wants to find his father even at the risk of betraying everyone at Merry Sunshine. The book has nonstop action, clear detailed descriptions, and a plot that's easy to follow. Readers who enjoy spy and espionage novels might find this one too simplistic in techniques used and missions taken, but it is a good introduction to the genre. Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD SLJ"
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About Bruce Hale

Edgar-nominated author Bruce Hale ( is passionate about inspiring reluctant readers to read. He has written or illustrated more than 25 seriously funny books for children, including the popular Chet Gecko Mysteries series and the comics-novel hybrid, "Underwhere," as well as picture books such as "Snoring Beauty" and "Moki and the Magic Surfboard." An actor and a Fulbright Scholar in Storytelling, Bruce is in demand as a speaker, having presented at conferences, universities, and schools across North America. His acting resume includes regional commercials, theater, and an independent film, "The Ride." Bruce's book "The Malted Falcon" was an Edgar Award Finalist. "Murder, My Tweet" won the Little D Award for Humor Writing. He lives in Santa Barbara, California. Brandon Dorman ( received a BFA from Brigham Young University-Idaho and since then has created hundreds of illustrations for books and magazines. Some of his best-known works include the #1 "New York Times" best-selling picture book "The Wizard"; cover art for the Newbery Honor Book "Savvy"; the best-selling "Fablehaven" series; and the popular Goosebumps series. He is married and the father of three boys, including one named-appropriately enough--Max.
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Rating details

322 ratings
3.96 out of 5 stars
5 37% (120)
4 32% (104)
3 22% (71)
2 6% (20)
1 2% (7)
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