The second in a new series, Spy Towers: Out of Control cleverly mixes action, adventure and the kind of humour that appeals to children and adults. It opens with evil hedgehog Professor Doompickle and his dastardly plot to take over the world. Fortunately for humankind, he has reckoned without the Spy Toys: Dan, a teddy bear with super strength; Arabella, a rag doll with a mean karate kick and an attitude to match; and Flax, robot rabbit. These toy super-heroes, rejects from the factory that made them but still possessed of computerised brains, now work for the Department of Secret Affairs, righting wrongs and generally putting baddies out of business. No sooner have they dealt with Doompickle than they are on to their next case: a rival toy manufacturer is out to destroy Snaztacular Ultrafun, the company that created them, and in spectacular fashion. Arabella goes undercover to work out who is behind this piece of crazed industrial espionage, and it all reaches a thrilling climax on an airborne helter skelter hurtling through the air towards a nuclear power plant: James Bond, eat your heart out!
Daft as it sounds, the plot actually makes perfect sense, and the three toys are distinct and appealing characters. Packed with super-hero and action-hero in jokes, and some sharp-ish digs at modern life, the humour works on different levels, and this will be favourite bedtime or story-time reading for children and grown-ups alike.