Fourteen year-old Nicki Haddon arrives in Canada, ready to begin her training at the Fire Dragon Academy. But when she reports to the academy to meet kung fu master David Kahana, Nicki finds him lying in a pool of blood. He is only able to slur out a few words and begs Nicki to find a priceless vase and return it to its owner.
The search for the Chinese vase causes Nicki to question her past. She wrestles with the absence of her wealthy adopted parents as they manage their hotel chain, and her origin as an abandoned baby from a Chinese orphanage. Are her real parents still out there? Do they think of her at all?
Bravely facing danger and following sharp instincts, Nicki pursues Kahana’s attacker and the Ming vase. She gives her Chinese name so that her adopted name is not recognized. She lies in order to get a job and gain access to restricted files. She doesn’t appear to have any qualms about these actions. Along the way, she receives help from the butler, another Chinese family and the generous owners of a small deli. Together, they plan to find the vase and return it to its owner, as Master Kahana has asked.
I liked Nicki’s spunk and her independence. The characters kept my interest and proved memorable. This is a nice series for middle grade readers with a short attention span for reading, as it moves quickly and, at 164 pages, isn’t a long book.
Nicki is the first to find her teacher after he has been stabbed. In several altercations, Nicki uses martial arts to disable her attackers. She handles a gun that a kidnapper produces, but does not fire. No gory details are given.