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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*Portia's Ultra Mysterious Double Life* by Anna Hays- young readers book review
Also by Anna Hays:

Portia's Exclusive and Confidential Rules on True Friendship
Portia's Ultra Mysterious Double Life
by Anna Hays
Ages 9-12 224 pages Aladdin March 2008 Paperback    

You’d think a major earthquake would be the most unsettling event in twelve-year-old Portia’s life, but you’d be wrong. The quake and its aftershocks don’t even begin to compare to the stomach-churning, life-changing discovery that Portia makes while cleaning up the fragments of a natural disaster.

Jogged loose from its hiding place is a picture of Patch, Portia’s mysterious father. “The picture is blurry, but from what I can make out,” Portia tells us, “it’s a tall man wearing a dark raincoat with an old-time hat tilted over his forehead. It looks like a hat that an actor from a black and white movie might wear….”

Portia’s mom, Indigo, has promised to tell Portia all about Patch but not until her 16th birthday – still years away! Portia has always believed that her father is a super-secret secret agent of some sort, whose dangerous work is the only thing that keeps him from coming home to her. She dreams that he sends her loving postcards from the exotic places he visits during his missions. The photograph, though, is the first real evidence – the first physical connection—she has to her father, and its discovery launches Portia on a new career as a detective.

Just like in real life, there are obstacles in the path: earthquake clean-up chores, for instance. With power going on and off, it’s nearly impossible for Portia to stay in touch with her best friend, Amy. Her traumatized cat refuses to come out from under the bed, and her mom is flirting with a firefighter named Rock. But Portia knows that detectives just have to take some things in stride in order to make progress during an investigation, and she’s certainly up to the challenge. Tech-savvy and life-wise, Portia is on the job.

Anna Hays’s first novel is a perfect blend of humor, suspense, and discovery. One might call it chickie lit – chick lit for the teen audience. Portia is a charming protagonist who knows that even a mom as cool as hers has to be finessed now and then, and that a best friend doesn’t have to be perfect to be loyal. What’s more, she understands that some mysteries can’t be solved quickly, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth pursuing.

The feisty narrative and clever sidebars from Portia’s fact files add to the sense of intimacy between Portia and the reader, bringing the story and the characters alive. Portia's Ultra Mysterious Double Life is snappy, smart, and sophisticated, and just right for the mature young reader who appreciates a unique reading experience.
Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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