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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spy, Spy Again, written and illustrated by Tina Holdcroft. Annick Press, 2011. $14.95 ages 9 and up

"The SOE carefully chose
the men and women for
these highly specialized
missions and sent them off
to spy schools for intensive
training. But not everyone
got a passing grade, which
was darned....inconvenient."

Oh, I know the kids who are going to love this book. While it offers up much information, it has the feel of a graphic novel. The bright, glossy pages are an open invitation for readers to come on in and learn the true stories of spies and their agencies around the world. In each case, mistakes were made.

It is evident that much research had to be done to bring these stories to her readers. Tina Holdcroft has done a commendable job of finding bits of history long-forgotten and discovering the many reasons that missions failed or were discovered by others. There is an introduction to each new story, and then a graphic story giving all of the pertinent facts, adding humor through speech bubbles, signs, chapter titles and imagined conversations.

There's a lot to be digested here but the author makes it easier with quick presentations and the allure of the graphic illustrations. Lots of details add to the information provided. The stories are varied, number twenty and have occurred around the globe. Advice is given, and not taken. Spies are caught and released. A mole is allowed to spy against the USA's intelligence for years because of a bungle. Readers will be intrigued and entertained.

A section at the back of the book includes sources used, more books to read, documents read and websites that will lead to further study. All in all, perfect fare for its target audience.

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