________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 22. . . .February 7, 2014


Volcanic Panic. (Zac Power).

H. I. Larry. Illustrated by Andy Hook.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2014.
91 pp., pbk., $5.99.
ISBN 978-1-4431-2863-6.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Lisa Case.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



It just isn’t fair, thought Zac Power as he stared at the page in front of him. I’m a secret agent! Why am I stuck here learning fractions?

He may have been a highly trained member of the Government Investigation Bureau (GIB), but that was top secret. As far as the school was concerned, he was just an ordinary kid.


Volcanic Panic is the 14th book in the “Zac Power” series which features Zac Power, an average 12-year-old boy who has the same responsibilities as all other kids. He has to go to school, keep his room clean, do his chores – and save the world! Zac, along with his brother Leon, is a secret agent for the Government Investigation Bureau (GIB).

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Out of the corner of his eye, he saw something red and gleaming.

Sitting outside on the windowsill was a rock as big as Zac’s hand, and it was glowing like it had just shot out of a volcano.

For a moment, the rock burned red hot under his fingers. But then it grew cool and turned black.

A second later, the rock made a loud hissing sound and cracked open in Zac’s hand, revealing a little silver disk. A disk like this could only mean one thing – a new mission from GIB!

Zac smiled. His boring school day was about to get a whole lot more interesting.

     In this volume, Zac has been enlisted for another mission – he must fly off to a remote volcanic island that is about to erupt and assist Agent Hot Shot. Zac soon learns that this mission is not what it seems, and unfortunately he does not have many of his spy tools with him. He has been tricked by BIG, who were GIB’s greatest enemies. Zac finds himself being held hostage for ransom. World domination is an expensive business, and BIG plans to use Zac to obtain 15 million dollars from GIB - or GIB will lose their favourite agent. Zac has 24 hours to stop this evil plan, get back home and finish his chores.

     Zac Power lives in a world of adventure and espionage, one that readers will find incredibly enjoyable. Just like other popular series, such as “The 39 Clues” or “The Infinity Ring”, these adventures are each written by different authors – the major difference is that the authors all use ‘H.I. Larry’ as a pseudonym. This definitely keeps the series consistent and readers wondering about the secretive author.

     The “Zac Power” books are well presented and thoroughly delightful. They are formatted with print that is easy to read and nicely spaced so it is not overwhelming for children who are either beginning to read or who may struggle. Because the chapters are short, anywhere from 8-12 pages, it is possible for a child to read a chapter easily. The illustrations are very engaging and tie directly into the story. The visuals are very detailed and are labelled so that the reader gets a real sense of the workings of the items. Detailed images include a blueprint of Zac’s Turbo Boots and how they work, the customized IPOD that Zac can transform into escape tools, and a diagram of how the GIB’s Magnesium Hypoxide Marble Flares work. The reader will become fully immersed in the world of Zac Power and cheer him on.

      “Zac Power” books can be enjoyed by many age groups. The short chapters make these books ideal for children just beginning to read chapter books, but they are also books that I will be recommending for older students that struggle with reading. This series has been popular at our school library, and now I understand why. The stories are written with wording and a storyline that will be appealing to older children as well – its main character is a younger version of the children in the “NERDS” or “Alex Rider” series that are so popular. Detailed illustrations also help expand the story's plot, and this makes it a great option for children who have English as a second language.

     The “Zac Power” series is a great addition to all school libraries as well as a good addition to home collections. New installments will definitely be added to our collection.

Highly Recommended.

Lisa Case is an elementary/junior high school librarian from Calgary, AB.

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

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