Moving Target by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Thirteen-year-old Cassie Arroyo is a Cuban- American living in Rome with her father, an art history professor at an Italian University. Her world falls apart when someone shoots her father and tries to kill her. Before he’s whisked away in the ambulance, her father tells Cassie that her life is in danger and she must go stay with an old friend, Brother Gregorio.

Cassie and her best friend, Simone, find Brother Gregorio living in an empty monastery. He’s surprised that Cassie is clueless about why someone attempted to kill her. He tells her that she comes from a long line of special people that have the ability to control the future when in possession of the Spear of Destiny, an ancient religious artifact. Cassie’s birth mark is much more than just a birth mark. That begins a race through Italy for Cassie, Simone, and Brother Gregorio’s nephew Asher as they follow clues to find the spear. Cassie doesn’t want to control the future, but she believes she can use the spear to bargain for her father’s life. However, her life isn’t safe either. One secret organization wants to capture her and control her because she can control the future. The other organization wants her dead to keep her from tampering with the future. She becomes a moving target.

This is The Da Vinci Code for kids with a hint of Alex Ryder. I really appreciated the multi-cultural feel with some Italian and Spanish language thrown in and the tidbits of art history. The story is set mainly in Rome. I’ve never been to Italy but the descriptions of the streetscapes and roadways seemed authentic to me. The clues were age-appropriate puzzles that required Cassie’s knowledge of languages and history to solve. If I was a kid reading this book, I would want to be cool like Cassie and be able to speak another language. Actually, I was an adult reading this book and I wanted to be cool like Cassie.

MOVING TARGET is fast and furious. I think it’s perfect for 4th grade and up.