I received a copy of CLAYTON STONE, AT YOUR SERVICE from the publisher, Holiday House. It’s one of the new releases from their Fall catalog. I love a good middle grade mystery. Throw in some fast-paced action, along with a surprisingly large dose of heart, and you have the makings of a pretty good story.
Clayton Stone has suffered through a lot of loss in his family. With the death of his grandfather, and both of his parents before that, it’s just him and his grandma. And the guys on his lacrosse team. He does okay most days, but then some small thing happens and he feels the loss all over again. That’s when he goes up to his grandpa’s old office to hang out with Bart the stuffed buffalo. Then a mysterious phone rings…
CLAYTON STONE, AT YOUR SERVICE by Ena Jones
Published by: Holiday House
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Genres: Middle Grade, Mystery, Action/Adventure
When the President calls asking him to help catch a kidnapper, 12-year-old Clayton’s life is hijacked into the family business his grandmother has worked hard to keep him out of—the secret agent business.
In an instant, Clayton’s world has changed. As the mystery of finding and catching the kidnapper escalates, it begins to mean even more than risking Clayton’s life. It means lying to his best friend, putting the lacrosse season in jeopardy, liking the girl he hates, and then risking his life again.
Join Clayton as he races against time to save a senator’s family.
This is more than your average spy guy story. Clayton is such a wonderful character. You really feel his struggle as he tries to work through the discovery of this exciting new world before him, how he can connect with the lives of his parents and this grandparents, and yet how not to disappoint his friends who don’t understand why he’s suddenly changed and why he’s letting them down.
Here’s an excerpt from the beginning:
I’m up in my grandpa’s office hanging with Bart, the stuffed buffalo, after a long, wet afternoon at lacrosse practice. The third floor was a better place to hang out when he was alive.
Sometimes I can even forget that Bart’s the only to talk to up here, but then there are other times. Like right now, when I tell him the guys are coming over tomorrow and we’re gonna play some video games and order burgers from Big Stone’s, the diner my family owns. Gramps would have gotten real excited, maybe asked if he should run out and get the latest Madden for us. Bart just stares at me with glazed, indifferent eyes.
Gramps’s office is in the attic of my grandparents’ super-old stone house, with a view over the treetops. In the winter, if you stand on your tiptoes and find the exact right angle, you can see the Potomac River.
I don’t do that anymore.
Anyway, after a couple of turns at Gramp’s indoor putting green, and a few throws at the dartboard, I slide across the wide-planked floor in my socks. I can smell Gran’s pot roast, and the thought of a good dinner is making my stomach gurgle. Practice today was tough. and I am hungry.
Photos and awards line the long attic walls, so thick I can barely see the whitewashed plaster underneath. When I was little, Gramps used to carry me from one end of the room to the other and point out all the important people he and Gran were photographed with. “This is the secretary of state in 1982.” and “This is the president of France.”
I don’t get why so many important people wanted a picture with the Pickle King of the world. If they only knew how much Gramps hated the pickles that made him rich!
I’m looking at a photo of Gran and Gramps with the first President Bush when a ringing phone startles me about two inches off the floor. Even though it’s an office, I’ve never heard a phone up here before. Seriously, never.
My sock and I slide over to Gramp’s desk, and I pick up the receiver. But all I get is dial tone. The phone rings again. The sound is coming from across the room…Gran’s desk? If I’ve never heard a phone ring up here, I’ve twice as seriously never seen my grandmother sit at that desk. And I’d swear on a stack of Bibles she hasn’t been inside this room for the last year. She won’t even come up the stairs.
I fly across the room – well, not literally – and land in the chair so hard it rolls backward. I scoot forward and scan the top of the desk. I still don’t see a telephone, and the high-pitched ringing seem sot be getting louder. The sound is coming from somewhere inside. I tug at the top drawer. It’s locked, and so is the next one. The third drawer opens, and there’s nothing. Until I look more closely.
In the back left corner gleams a small gold key. I grab it – could this be what I need? Only one way to –
Ha! The key turns and the top drawer opens, and there it sits: a plugged-in cell phone flashing a red strobe light and blaring long streams of noise.
Something about the ring feels wrong. My stomach forgets about the pot roast downstairs long enough to tighten, warning me to leave the phone where it is; telling me, Don’t even touch it. And for sure don’t answer it.
But I’m stupid that way. I bring it to my ear.
“Uh, hello?” I say.
You want to know what happens next, right?
It’s a great story, and a fast-paced read that I finished within a few days. If you love this story and want more from Clayton Stone, fear not! There’s a sequel coming soon!
CLAYTON STONE, FACING OFF release date is scheduled for Fall of 2016.
Learn more about Ena Jones here.
Follow Ena on Twitter here.