So, the whole concept of being a secret agent during World War II is kind of complicated right? I mean, first there’s the whole question of Nazi Germany and the Free French vs. Vichy French and the Allies and the RAF, just sorting out the various involved parties takes pretty advanced understanding. But this book is put together with a pretty young audience in mind. It’s illustrated with cute illustrations. The story is a step-by-step walk through of “your” experience being recruited to be a secret agent and “your” first mission. It tries really hard to be accessible, but I’m just not sure how well it succeeded. I have a ton of background knowledge of World War II and even some specific knowledge of resistance operations during WWII. I understood it. But will kids? I may see if I can get any fourth graders to check it out for me and report back. I really do worry that those who have enough background knowledge to make heads or tails of the story will be too old for the juvenile reporting and illustrations. And I worry that the group that would love the idea of learning about spies and checking out the illustrations and side bars and captions might just be lost.
I guess the sweet spot would be guided classroom use for learning about non-fiction books. It certainly is one of the more interesting non-fiction books I’ve seen.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – None.
Profanity – None.
Death, Violence and Gore – The book is set during World War II. It keeps things pretty chipper and vague considering. You are told to write a will because chances are good that you won’t survive. If caught you may be tortured or shot by a firing squad. You learn about silent killing – specifically a step-by-step how to guide. Various weapons are mentioned/appear in illustrations, including: a knife, guns, tanks, bombs, a dead rat stuffed with explosives, a booby-trapped suitcase, a “firepot”.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – None.
Frightening or Intense Things – The spying is portrayed as exciting and tense but is not scary.