For many tourists, the most challenging thing about a vacation in Paris might be long queues at the Eiffel Tower or stumbling through a conversation in French. It's certainly not being thrown into an international espionage plot, like the characters in the fast-paced and hilarious middle-grade novel, The Family Hitchcock.
Written by Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett, this light-hearted spy caper centres around 13-year-old Maddy and her younger brother, Benji. They know how they want to spend the summer, and it's not a house-swap with a family in Paris.
We found a copy of The Family Hitchcock just before our own family vacation in Paris, so it was a fun read for my son, Dylan. But a vacation in the famous City of Lights is where the similarities between our family and the Hitchcocks end.
In the book, mistaken identities lead to stakeouts, kidnappings, and rooftop chases with bad guys. The Hitchcocks just wanted a family holiday, and now they must risk their lives to ensure a mysterious stolen vial doesn't end up in the wrong hands.
The plot moves at lightning pace, with one suspenseful moment after another. Humorous lines such as, “Daddy! You’re the Terminator!” or a character’s apology after crashing through a skylight—“Sorry to drop in like this!”—keep the mood light.
At the very heart of this madcap tale is the notion of family; in particular, the realities and tensions of being part of one. It’s not always easy to get along with your siblings or parents, but the Hitchcocks give hope that it's possible to develop a newfound respect for and understanding of each other.
And, they saved the world, too!
Two kids, two cats, and a house full of books. We share our favourite picks for young readers.