Janitors Book 2 Book Cover

Now more than ever, Spencer, Daisy, and even Dez must fight to save schools everywhere. Toxites, the small creatures that love to feed on the brain waves of students, are just the beginning of their troubles.

The Bureau of Educational Maintenance (BEM) is after Spencer, and the Rebels hope to sneak him to safety within the walls of an elite private school. But danger follows Spencer and his friends, testing their loyalty and trust as well as their Toxite-fighting skills. Can they hold out long enough to discover the true secret of New Forest Academy and what it means to the future of education?

This review is long, but please try and stick it out to the end…

Janitors: Secrets of New Forest Academy is book two in the Janitors series by Tyler Whitesides and I must say that he is starting to really find his writing groove. While book one was good, the plot, characters and back story in book two were more developed and kept me more engaged. I particularly enjoyed how clues were left lying around for readers to begin to piece together plot and character puzzles. If readers are careful, they can begin to anticipate plot twists in advance, encouraging more reading at a deeper level – a challenge for many students in grades 3 and 4.

I do have one minor thing that annoyed me about Secrets of New Forest Academy and one major issue. I found myself frustrated that Daisy is still so gullible even after all she had gone through in the last book. Daisy seems to have the innocence and gullibility of a grade two student. By grade six, students typically learn more from experiencing different situations and are not as easily fooled the next time around. I hope Daisy begins to develop and grow in the next book instead of continuing to add a bit of comic relief…

The one big issue I have is how one character is introduced and then referred to in the rest of the book. A group of students are introduced to readers like this: “There were one or two fourth graders, but most of the kids looked twelve or thirteen years old. One of the boys was tall with reddish hair. Another was thin, with prominent Asian features.” In the same scene, it says “The Asian boy at Spencer’s side…My name is Min Lee.” On several other occasions, Min is referred to as “the Asian boy”. Until this point, the author has never mentioned skin colour or ethnicity. Why does it matter now? I can infer from the character’s name that he has an Asian heritage and that should be enough. The director of New Forest Academy is named Mr. Garcia. He is not ever referred to as “the Spanish director”, nor should he be.

If I were to read this book to students, I would either omit the Asian references or have a discussion about why the author would have made such references and if they were necessary or appropriate. I am greatly disappointed that these are in the book and must give the book a lower rating than I would have otherwise.

Setting this aside, I did enjoy book two even more than book one and look forward to reading book three. Let’s hope Mr. Whietsides has set the ethnic references aside and readers can concentrate on another rip-roaring story of slime and adventure.

I give this book 3 stars out of 5.

I received this book free from Shadow Mountain Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.