If your word-hungry sixth grader has reached the saturation point on Harry Potter, or perhaps never really liked the straight-arrow boy magician to begin with, here's a fact that will make him or her sit up and take notice: the world's most dangerous criminal mastermind is only 13 years old! That's right, Artemis Fowl, who was introduced in Eoin Colfer's popular book of the same name, is the ultimate evil teenage genius. He returns in Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, changing his tactics this go-round. Instead of kidnapping fairies for ransom, as he did in his first adventure, he joins forces with them to rescue his father from the Russian Mafia.
Enduring another psychiatric session at his Irish boarding school, Fowl is told by his companion/ henchman Butler that his father, presumed dead, has been found and is being held for ransom by the Russian Mafia. At the same time, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit, an elite police force in fairyland, learns that someone is selling human technology to trolls. Both she and Artemis realize that they can help each other, so they reluctantly (Holly more so than Artemis) form a partnership to solve their problems. This may sound a little far-fetched, but Colfer has created a convincing James Bond-type thriller for kids, and it's packed with gadgets, snappy dialogue and hair's-breadth escapes. It's fast-moving, too. After the obligatory set-up (to bring new readers up to speed on just who Artemis Fowl is and what he's about), the story jumps around like an action movie, from Ireland to Paris to Russia. The result is another funny, wisecracking romp from this best-selling author. Kids will love The Arctic Incident as much as they did Colfer's first effort (and will be pleased to hear that a movie is planned). Parents shouldn't worry too much about having a villain as hero either; Artemis is misguided, but that's a family tradition, and he has his good qualities, like courage and loyalty. Colfer's books don't encourage criminal behavior anymore than Harry Potter encourages black magic. The books are fun, escapist fiction your children (and you) will love.