cover image Spy Guy: The Not-So-Secret Agent

Spy Guy: The Not-So-Secret Agent

Jessica Young, illus. by Charles Santoso. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-544-20859-9

Being a spy isn’t easy for a noisy and occasionally clumsy kid like Spy Guy. Luckily, he can turn to Dad, aka “the Chief,” for advice, which Young rhymes for maximum pith: “If you seek to sneak, try not to speak.” Young (My Blue Is Happy) and Santoso (Max Makes a Cake) open their story with what seems like a brush-off (the Chief is reading, so naturally he wants Spy Guy to be quiet), but it quickly turns into a tribute to savvy parental mentoring. Attempting to successfully sneak up on his father, Spy Guy takes inspiration from a spider that Santoso tucks into each scene, but readers looking for a bit more edge might be disappointed. The Chief rocks a monochromatic ensemble reminiscent of a Cold War spy for much of the book, but Santoso’s crisp images and liberal use of white space keep the focus on domestic comedy over potential intrigue. Now that he’s honed his craft, maybe Spy Guy will get something to investigate next time. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Justin Rucker, Shannon Associates. (May)