The Name of This Book Is Secret
Eleven-year-old schoolmates Cass and Max-Ernest are nothing alike.
Max-Ernest is small for his age. He likes to tell jokes and talk non-stop, even when no one is listening. He lives in a house divided straight down the middle --- one side for each of his divorced parents, who still live together and frequently take him to the doctor to find out what makes him so hyper and causes his “condition.”
Max-Ernest has a logical mind. He likes to study, make observations and think things through. He cuts every hair on his head the same length because he “doesn’t like to favor one hair over another.” He is used to being teased and ridiculed and having his lunch stolen, yet he never lets what other people say upset him. But he is pleased when Cass becomes his first real “friend.”
Cass, a conspiracy-theory-advocate-in-training, has a wild imagination. She doesn’t care much about her appearance, except that she always covers her large, elfin-like ears, which have a tendency to turn bright red when she is embarrassed or less than truthful. Cass is a survivalist who has no time for trivial matters --- or friends.
Her take on the story about the boy who cried wolf is that it is “better to cry wolf over and over than never to cry wolf at all.” In addition to her school books and homework, she carries a backpack full of survival essentials, including a flashlight, compass, maps, rope, first-aid kit and --- well, you get the picture.
When Cass’s mother goes on a Hawaiian “work-plus-vacation trip” and leaves Cass with Larry and Wayne, her substitute grandfathers, Cass and Max-Ernest’s adventure --- and danger --- begins.
Larry and Wayne live around the corner from Cass in an old, abandoned fire station that has been converted to an antiques store and warehouse. One day --- it was a Wednesday --- Gloria Fortune, a real estate agent for the dead, shows up at the store with a container of stuff from the home of a magician who has disappeared. After having the house emptied and cleaned out, Gloria has some items she wants Larry and Wayne to take off her hands.
One is a redwood box, which is shaped like a briefcase. Inside the box are dozens of sparkling crystal vials, a small brass plaque engraved with “The Symphony of Smells” and a notebook. Cass enlists Max-Ernest's help to uncover the secret behind the “Symphony of Smells” and the message hidden in the notebook.
While trying to solve the mystery, they encounter Dr. L. and Ms. Mauvais, wealthy and evil villains who wear white gloves, ride in a limousine and have an unnatural interest in children with special gifts. When Cass tries to rescue an unusually gifted classmate who goes missing after Dr. L. and Ms. Mauvais visit their school, Cass does more than solve a mystery. She learns about the true meaning of loyalty, bravery and friendship.
The narrator’s playful voice, engaging characters and unusual plot make THE NAME OF THIS BOOK IS SECRET a delight to read. But after you finish it, be sure to keep the secret!
Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on September 1, 2008
The Name of This Book Is Secret
- Publication Date: September 1, 2008
- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- ISBN-10: 0316113697
- ISBN-13: 9780316113694