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Undercover Kid

Book 1. Tuna Surprise
Illustrated by Andy Sklar
Grosset & Dunlap, 2006

Maggie Murphy, eight years old, loves mysteries. In her neighborhood, she’s the first kid on the scene when there’s a missing bicycle or a runaway puppy. She loves dressing up as a “spy” (always wear black and lurk), and she can usually be found at the scene of the crime, gathering clues and asking questions. Sometimes she actually solves the mystery.

Maggie’s biggest problem is in fact quite small. It’s her six-year-old brother, Arthur, who follows her around like a tiny, crazed process server and is constantly meddling in her cases. Maggie and Arthur live with their mother, a high school science teacher, and their father, the somewhat spacey owner of Papa’s Books, a used book store with a second-floor apartment where they live.

Maggie’s world shifts when her maternal grandfather moves in with the family. Grandpa is an inventor, but something always seems to go wrong with his creations. His masterpiece is a machine to make him young again, but it ends up making him older, and the effect lasts for only an hour. Maggie, spying as usual, witnesses this and decides to try it for herself. Unfortunately, so does Arthur.

Maggie and Arthur sneak back when Grandpa is gone and, with the help of the machine, become grownups. Of course, they still are kids inside, which makes for some startling behavior. When they change back, Maggie realizes she has stumbled onto the perfect spy scheme. She is an undercover kid, able to go places and solve mysteries no other kid can solve.

Undercover Kid is the adventures of Maggie and Arthur as they identify neighborhood crimes, go undercover together, and solve the mysteries, bickering all the while.

Excerpt

     A woman yelled. A cat was crying. There was a broken lamp. The tuna fish was gone.
     It was a case for the Undercover Kid.
     My name is Maggie Murphy. You probably think I am just a regular person. That is where you are wrong.
     I am a spy.
     Spies wear black. They lurk. What is lurking? I would tell you, but the spy code does not allow me to.
     My family lives above a book store. My family is me, my dad, and my mom. Oh, yeah. There is also Arthur. He is my little brother.
     Arthur may not be part of my family much longer. I am hoping that aliens come and take him away.