________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 5 . . . . October 28, 2005


Now You See Them, Now You Don’t. (On the Run, #3).

Gordon Korman.
New York, NY: Scholastic (Distributed in Canada by Scholastic Canada), 2005.
146 pp., pbk., $6.99.
ISBN 0-439-65138-7.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Marina Cohen.

*** /4


This was what their lives had become. This was the new reality — hanging by the narrowest of threads over a pit of disaster. One misstep, one unlucky break, and they were back in custody. Who would search for Frank Lindenauer then?

It would be the end of all hope for Mom and Dad.A lousy fifty-cent pen!

Any chance of a future for the Falconer family could crumble over something as insignificant as that.


Now You See Them, Now You Don’t, Korman’s third installment in his “On The Run”  series, is a middle-grade spy thriller with twists and turns round every corner.

     The novel begins with a letter from 15-year-old Aiden and 11-year-old Meg Falconer to their parents who are currently serving life sentences for treason. The brother and sister team are determined to prove their parents’ innocence. Their only clues? A picture of Frank Lindenauer—a mysterious man whom they believe to be CIA—and an address in LA. Using frequent flyer miles and fake names, Aiden and Meg travel to California where they manage to elude the law and break through an airport security lockdown in LAX.

     Once free in the sprawling city, Aiden, by chance, saves the life of a gang leader, Bo, who befriends the two and assists them in their quest. Unfortunately, Aiden and Meg soon learn that not all the gang members are as trustworthy.

     When the siblings locate the address they have been searching for, instead of finding Frank Lindenauer, they find a key. The key belongs to a locker in a posh fitness club, and with wit and imagination, Aiden and Meg manage to sneak into the club and open the locker. Disappointed once again, they discover it contains only an envelop full of leaflets advertising the East Asian Children’s Charitable Fund. At first glance, this envelope appears to be a dead-end, though eventually it will provide them with yet another clue. 

     Pursued by a relentless FBI agent named Emmanuel Harris, a.k.a. J. Edger Giraffe, a ruthless assassin nicknamed Hairless Joe, and Zapp, a gang member willing to sell them out, Aiden and Meg encounter plenty of danger in L.A. Though they once again manage to elude capture, they are unfortunately no closer to proving their parents’ innocence.

     Now You See Them, Now You Don’t is quick-paced and exciting, certain to captivate reluctant readers looking for action. The language is simple, and the dialogue, for the most part, credible. Though the characters, at times, seem two-dimensional, the gripping plot drives this story forward. From the first page on, the reader is drawn into Aiden and Meg’s thrilling and perilous world.

     Although Now You See Them, Now You Don’t is number three in the “On The Run” series, this reviewer found it held its own as an entertaining, stand-alone read. There were only a few minor points of clarification in the plot; however, this may well serve to encourage readers to backtrack to the first two books in the series. 


Marina Cohen has a Master’s Degree in French Literature from the University of Toronto. She has been teaching in the York Region District School Board for 10 years.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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