Kids are Bookin’ It: Children are the heroes in ‘Brainwashed’

Crime Travelers – Brainwashed, by Paul Aertker
Recommended for ages 8 – 12, Middle Grade

Happy summer vacation! Time to take a trip. Pack up and join the Crime Travelers on their exciting adventure to France. Large groups of kids and even babies are being Brainwashed and disappearing. Danger lurks from page one all the way through the book. It’s up to spy kids to solve this mystery and save these innocent victims.

From the very interesting characters that you’ll meet while investigating this extraordinary case in France, you’ll end up learning about other fascinating parts of the world too. This author sees reading as travel, and he’s inviting you along for the trip of a lifetime.

Ms. Gunerro is kidnapping so many kids, and forcing them to work for her at her Good Company, which is clearly a name meant to mislead. The strange Curukians protect Ms. Gunerro and are always ready to start a fight, with anyone.

Fighting against the Good Company is The New Resistance. As 14-year-old Astrid explains, “The New Resistance is run by kids because that’s the way Dad designed it. Grown-ups have messed up the world, so it’s our job to make things right.” To solve this case they will have to be brain-smart to avoid being Brainwashed too.

The way they sneak into Paris is clever, but then something goes wrong in the city and so Lucas, Astrid and their friends Jackknife and Nalini are together, cut off from the rest of their team. They must quickly create a new plan. Was their information wrong, or do they have a traitor in the Resistance? Astrid’s adopted brother Lucas discovers, “Everybody had secrets. Everybody.” Despite the danger, these kids have lots of fun, after all they are in gay Paris.

Children are the victims in Ms. Gunerro’s crimes, so children must be the ones to save them. But at what price? Lucas poses the question, “If you were Jackknife, in that situation, about to be Brainwashed, wouldn’t you want — wouldn’t you expect — your friends to come help you?”

The author, Paul Aertker (ETT Kerr) is a children’s travel book writer, teacher and a frequent speaker at elementary and middle schools. He began his teaching career in West Africa with the Peace Corps, where he helped establish the town’s first public library. As a traveler and multilingual teacher, Aertker has clocked nearly half his life outside the U.S. He took the CIA exam because he wanted to be a spy for the good guys.

— By Wendy Kendall

Wendy Kendall is a writer, project manager, wedding officiant and volunteer at the Edmonds Library.

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