I ordered this book for my school library because it looked like a good adventure story to pitch at the many fans of 39 Clues in third and fourth grade that was a contemporary story and not a fantasy. I was not disappointed in that regard. It was an extra bonus to discover part of this book was set in Wisconsin. It is not often that I come across books set in my school’s state that are not prairie stories. Even more exciting was that the book’s climactic sequence takes place at the House on the Rock, a very unique place that I first visited last year. (http://www.thehouseontherock.com/) That there was a sentence mention of the town my school is in made pitching this story to my students that much more fun.
In this first book of the series, twins Coke and Pep McDonald are days away from becoming teenagers when they discover they’re part of a secret project known as the Genius Files after a golf cart tries to run them down on the way home from school and they’re forced to jump off a cliff to survive. The next day they are locked into a classroom while a fire starts to take the school. With unexpected aid they are able to survive, but the dangerous people after them pursue them on their summer vacation. While their mom drags them into a series of museums and monuments to oddities, Coke and Pepsi have to figure out how to evade pursuit while not telling their parents what is truly going on. Stops along the way include the Spam museum and the largest ball of twine. Google Map information is included so readers can track the McDonald family as they journey across the United States.
This is a fast paced book. Both the villains and the twins are shown to be dogged and resourceful. Both sides make mistakes which adds to the readability in my opinion. The parents are oblivious to what’s going on and reacting only to what they see, such as Coke and Pep’s driving escapade.
When I had a question about one of the Wisconsin museums mentioned, I emailed Dan Gutman and had a response by the next morning. I was very impressed and am excited to read the second book in this series when it is available.