Gitty Danshvari, The League of Unexceptional Children

Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2015, ISBN 978-0-349-12420-9

Jonathan Murray and Shelley Brown are entirely nondescript. So much so that even their parents fail to notice them, and people who they have been around for years call them by the wrong names. It is their very invisibility that brings them to the attention of a covert spy network, the League of Unexceptional Children. Children who do not get noticed are exactly what's needed to track people down and discover hidden information. There is a national crisis: the vice president has been kidnapped, and the everyone from the president down is terrified that he will divulge government secrets. Despite less than a day of training, the mission to rescue him falls to Jonathan and Shelley. Their complete lack of brilliance causes some problems, but in the end it is they, not the British brainiacs brought in to help, who save the day.

There's a good deal of humour in this book. Indeed the very idea of a spy ring composed of children who do not shine in any way is amusing, and there are plenty of nice touches. The secret entrance to the League of Unexceptional Children is a giant fridge in Famous Randy's Hot Dog Palace. Shelley has an unerring ability to miss the point. It has to be said, though, that the constant running jokes on the same themes wear somewhat thin. This is the first in a series aimed at mid-graders.