cover image Max in the House of Spies (Operation Kinderspion #1)

Max in the House of Spies (Operation Kinderspion #1)

Adam Gidwitz. Dutton, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-11208-3

After Kristallnacht, things continue getting worse for German Jews, prompting the parents of highly intelligent 11-year-old Max Bretzfeld to send him to England via the Kindertransport. Though Max doesn’t want to go—especially because he often feels as if he’s the only one looking out for his meek parents—they insist. Max ends up living with the Montagus, an aristocratic family of British Jews, and he did not arrive alone. He’s joined by two invisible companions: a dybbuk, or Jewish evil spirit, on one shoulder and a kobold, or German folk spirit, on the other. When Max realizes that one of the Montagus is a British spy, he endeavors to become one as well, believing it to be the quickest way to return to Berlin to search for his parents. Gidwitz (the Unicorn Rescue Society series) imbues Max’s first-person voice with plentiful charm and intellect, making him an irresistible and irrepressible protagonist even his otherworldly tormentors can’t help but grow fond of. The compelling plot, which occasionally stretches credulity, boasts an exciting mixture of triumphs and perils, leading up to a cliffhanger ending that will have readers clamoring for the sequel. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sarah Burnes, Gernert Company. (Feb.)