Agent Q, or the Smell of Danger!
Agent Q, or the Smell of Danger!

Series: Pals In Peril Tale Vol. 4   

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Annotation: As Lily, Katie, and Jasper try to return home after their adventures in Delaware, they face a protoplasmic monster, sleeping gas, a runaway rice cart, sentient lobsters, and spies of the Awful and Delectable Autarch of Dagsboro.
Catalog Number: #4489556
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition Date: 2010
Illustrator: Cyrus, Kurt,
Pages: 293 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-416-98640-5
ISBN 13: 978-1-416-98640-9
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2009051199
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Subject Heading:
Spies. Fiction.
Language: English
Horn Book
On the heels of their last escapade (Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware), Lily, Katie, and Jasper still face a harrowing journey through the mythical state where vowels have gone extinct and agents from the feared Ministry of Silence strive to capture them and win fabulous prizes. Rousing chase scenes and the series' signature absurdist embellishments--sentient lobsters!--enliven Anderson's adventure-story spoof.
Kirkus Reviews
Readers need to be sure, when entering M.T. Anderson & Kurt Cyrusland, they've securely fastened their disbelief to some high and sturdy hook, because as soon as they crack the binding, they will be assaulted by more looniness than any regular person could imagine. As the story opens, the series's eponymous Pals—Katie Mulligan (star of the Horror Hollow books), Jasper Dash (Boy Technonaut, star of his own boys' adventure series) and Lily Gefelty (ordinary)—are making their way to the "forbidden border of Delaware" (which suffers from a terrible vowel shortage). To get there, they will need to evade the spies of the Ministry of Silence (who have astonishing camouflage skills), negotiate coded menus ("If you keep on asking for hamburgers, fries, and Reubens, he will believe we are being pursued by lady musketeers. On zebra-back") and survive being guest stars on the This Is Your Double Life!!! reality game show, all with the help of some doughty monks and the obnoxious Taylor Quizmo, Secret Agent, and without harming the sentient lobsters. Hysterical—for readers willing to surrender to a walloping smart ride. (Satire. 10-14)
School Library Journal
Gr 4&11;7&12; Great Scott! Sentient Lobsters? Furniture imitating spies? This installment in the series finds crime-fighting teen friends Lily Gefelty, Katie Mulligan, and Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut, in dire straits once again. They are eager to get home to New Jersey but they are facing dangers at every turn while trying to leave the fantastical state of Delaware, which is ruled by His Terrifying Majesty, the Awful and Adorable Autarch of Dagsboro. Delaware's Ministry of Silence has secret agents and spies lurking everywhere trying to capture the heroes because they know the whereabouts of valuable treasures. The trio is accompanied by a group of monks from Vbngoom who are being forced to relocate their monastery. Spies come in all shapes and sizes and they are all eager to turn in the trio to obtain fabulous prizes such as a walking-an-invisible-dog trick leash. Fellow teen Taylor Quizmo, Secret Agent, arrives to save the day, but can the Pals trust him? And what about Agent Q? How will they find him when they don't know who they're looking for and they have to stay hidden? As with the previous installments, readers are occasionally addressed with clever, tongue-in-cheek asides. Flip-book art, ads, and black-and-white drawings add hilarity. Quirky, unique, and never dull, this is one adventuresome fantasy readers won't soon forget, whether they're followers of the series or meeting the pals for the first time.&12; Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Now that Lily Gefelty and her pals sper Dash, Boy Technonaut, and Katie Mulligan, Horror Hollow heroine ve saved the monastery of Vbngoom (Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware, 2009), it's time to go home. But their sing-along road trip across Fair Delaware with the monks becomes a desperate flight from the tyrannical Autarch, who has informants everywhere and a shark pit at the ready. Joining our intrepid trio is supercilious secret agent Taylor Quizmo, intent on helping them escape to New Jersey is he? (To find out, tune in to the latest episode of the reality game show, This Is Your Double Life!) In Anderson's droll send-up of the spy genre, restaurant menus hold hidden meanings, sentient lobsters guard resistance hideouts, and informants win Precious Moments figurines for turning people in. Among the energetic chase sequences, diverting authorial interjections, and appropriately quirky illustrations (including flip-book art) is a quiet message about the importance of home, however "normal" it may be. Finally, if while reading you mysteriously find "The Song That Never Ends" stuck in your head, ponder these words of wisdom from Brother Grzo: "Is not all life a song that never ends?"
Word Count: 40,244
Reading Level: 5.1
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.1 / points: 6.0 / quiz: 140625 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.6 / points:10.0 / quiz:Q51360
Lexile: 760L


They came from the heights of the mountain, a long procession winding their way between the cracks and steeples of stone. The peak was hidden in fog. Through the ravines and over the hunched backs of granite the men padded, barefoot, all in a line, one after another, silent in the morning. They walked through the high, barren places where the ancient wind had licked the limestone into pillars and pits, caves and crevasses. There were two hundred boys and men, all dressed in flowing robes of green; and each one carried a small piece of a dismantled white van.

They marched through hollows carved by howling storms and mazes formed by no human hand. The largest men carried the van’s white doors, their heads sticking through the open windows, or they hefted a roof-panel between them. Others carried the exhaust pipe, the dashboard, the brake pads. The littlest boys—six or seven years old—carried single bolts cupped in their hands. The procession was led by two silent youths, frowning, walking side by side, both cradling the headlights in their arms. The line of them wandered through the bitter karst.

They were the monks of Vbngoom, called the Platter of Heaven, the most powerful monastery in the whole State of Delaware. They filed along dinosaur curves and great stone mounds.

Only three of the people in this solemn parade of broke-down van did not wear green robes and did not have their heads shaved.

Lily Gefelty, a slightly stocky girl whose bangs flapped down in her face or blew backward in a burst, depending on the wavering breeze, carried the crankshaft timing gear. Her eyes—when they appeared through her hair—were bright, and she greeted each new vista with mute delight. She loved the mountain above them and the green forests down below. She loved that she was here with friends, and that they were on their way home after a satisfying adventure. She was very ready for home.

Behind her was Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut. He wore a pith helmet and kept squinting into the haze, trying to make out the Delaware Canal or the smokestacks of far Wilmington. Unlike Lily, he was used to mountaintops, monks, and danger, having appeared in his own series of adventure books in which he pedaled blimps through the air, socked ruffians, and rode buffaloes bareback. Still, he also wanted to get home to his mother and his own bedroom and laboratory.

Katie Mulligan, behind him, wore the van’s fan belt around her neck. She was used to adventure too, because she starred in a series called Horror Hollow, in which she unwound mummies, taught werewolves to heel, and heavily salted leech invasions. Under other circumstances, she would have been grumpy about yet another adventure—she was getting tired of being bitten, stomped, and slimed—but on this particular day, she was in an extremely good mood, because right behind her walked Drgnan Pghlik, a young monk of Vbngoom who had agreed to go to the school dance with her.

It is unusual for monks to go to school dances—usually they spend their free time chanting in Latin, speaking in riddles, drawing cherubs in old books, and slapping themselves with stinging nettles—but Drgnan was a very unusual monk. For one thing, he was being trained as one of his monastery’s Protectors and taught martial arts so that he could rove around the country, doing good and making sure that no pirate or plunderer threatened his sacred order and their secrets.

The monks climbed down the mountain. They were leaving their home. Or, to be more precise, their home was leaving them.

They all gathered to rest on a little plateau with pillars of limestone like a fallen palace of wax. Lily sat down and took out her water bottle. She unscrewed the lid and took a deep swig. She watched the monks carefully. She could tell something was going to happen, but she didn’t know what.

She knew that it was time for a few of the monks to leave their home so that they could go out into the world—across the forbidden border of Delaware—to collect those sculptures and gold-bound manuscripts that had recently been stolen by gangsters.* The monks would give Lily, Katie, and Jasper a ride home to Pelt, their town.

Hence the procession and the auto parts. The monks had dismantled the gangsters’ white van. There was no road on this side of the mountain. They were carrying the van down the mountain to reassemble it near a road. Then Katie, Jasper, Lily, and Drgnan would drive with a few of the senior monks toward the border of Delaware. They would make their way to Pelt and reclaim the artifacts illegally sold to the Pelt Museum.

But Lily didn’t understand what the rest of the holy men were doing there, or why they seemed so sad.

One of the most revered of the monks, a forty-year-old man with a clever face and an uneven grin, came over to her and her friends. His name was Grzo, and he was in charge of the Scriptorium, the room where manuscripts were copied by the monks. Usually, he spent all his days there, in a hall silent but for the squeak of quill pens and the laser-y mouth-sounds of young monks drawing angelic wars.

Brother Grzo pointed up the slope, to where the monastery could still be seen through the thinning haze. He said to Drgnan, “Look up the mountain. There you see Vbngoom upon the top of Mount Tlmp for the last time.”

Drgnan nodded. Lily, Jasper, and Katie looked confused and surprised. Brother Grzo explained, “Do not fear, children. You may someday see our home again, but not in this place. For two hundred years, Vbngoom has sat among the Four Peaks. It has moved among the mountains in the fog, shuffled like a pea among four nutshells to fool those who would seize upon our treasures and our sacred flames. But now that the gangsters of the World-Wide Lootery are in the hands of the government authorities, there is too much danger that we shall be found. Too many people know where our monastery is hidden. Too many roads lead to our mountaintop. Too many Delaware spies have asked too many questions. No longer can the monastery of Vbngoom hide in the clouds atop the Four Peaks. No longer is a jungle filled with kangaroo-riding cannibals and lisping serpent-men enough protection. Vbngoom must move farther away. Go and sit while we pray.”

Katie, Lily, and Jasper crawled up into a small nook worn into the stone. Katie passed out sandwiches. They ate. They looked up at the towers and walls of the place they had grown to love. They watched the monks form a great circle. Some stood on rough pedestals. Out of backpacks they drew pipes and rings that they fitted together to make horns and trumpets. A few trumpeters stood aloof on pillars, awaiting a signal.

An age was coming to an end.

The abbot of the monastery, an ancient man who walked on wooden crutches, began whispering a prayer. The others joined in, each in his own time. The plateau murmured, muttered. For a long time, this went on. An hour passed. The sun moved in the sky. The shadows on the monastery walls fell crooked, then straight. The pine trees around its base wriggled in the midday sun.

And all at once, the whispering stopped—the horns came up—a great, triumphant chord echoed through the mountains, blasting away at the mirage of what was.

In the silence that followed, Lily’s ears rang. No monk spoke. The abbot shuffled out to the middle of the ring of monks. He looked up at his home. He raised his palm and lay it beneath his lips. And he blew.

That tiny breath traveled up the mountain-side—hit the pine trees like a gale—and the monastery began to unravel as if it was made of dry sand. Away flew a turret—and now walls were sifting off in clouds, blowing through the sky, brilliant, glittering—all of it—the trees on the peak, the volcanic crater, the cloisters, the bridges, the chapels, the banners—all of it swarmed through the air, locustlike, and tumbled off to the north.

Vbngoom migrated through the sky.

Lily cried at it shimmering in the noonday light.

Then there was no more monastery there—in fact, no more peak. Suddenly the monks were only a quarter mile from the top.

The kids were sad that Vbngoom could no longer stay atop Mount Tlmp, but glad it would be safe elsewhere.

Drgnan came to their side, wiping his eyes. The musicians were unscrewing their trumpets and dismantling their pipes and stowing them in backpacks. The rest said quick prayers and picked up their automotive parts.

Then the procession set off again, holding high their tappets, their clutch, their shocks.

Vbngoom was gone.

* As lovingly described in the previous volume, Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware.

© 2010 M. T. Anderson

Excerpted from Agent Q, or the Smell of Danger! by M. T. Anderson
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

In the zany and humorous fourth book of National Book Award winner M.T. Anderson’s Pals in Peril series, Jasper Dash and his friends must escape the clutches of The Awful Autarch!

Having mopped up their last crime-fighting caper, our three heroes—Lily Gefelty, Katie Mulligan, and Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut—are eager to get home. But the secret police in the war-torn realm of fantasy where the three kids are trapped (the state of Delaware) don’t want them going anywhere. Our dynamic trio knows way too much about the whereabouts of certain fabulous treasures to escape the grip of Delaware’s Ministry of Silence. So, chums, it’s a race to the border of New Jersey against spies and government agents and double-crossers...That is, if our heroes make it home alive!

Chock full of ups, downs, twists, turns, a shark pit. and even a band of sentient lobsters fighting on the side of Good, this fourth installment of the Pals in Peril series is every bit as wild, wacky, and wonderfully outrageous as the first three.

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