Surprising Spies: Unexpected Heroes of World War II

Karen Gray Ruelle. Holiday House, $19.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-8234-3757-3
Ruelle (The Grand Mosque of Paris) offers another look at courage and sacrifice during the second world war, this time focusing on Allied spies. Straightforward storytelling delineates the dangerous and innovative clandestine work of eight unexpected individuals. Several were already famous, including American expat Josephine Baker, a Black entertainer who smuggled information for her beloved adopted France; inventor and magician Jasper Maskelyne, a camouflage and diversion expert who was part of an eclectic unit of soldiers called the “Magic Gang”; professional baseball player Moe Berg; and Sufi princess Noor Inayat Khan. Archival photographs, maps, section headings (“Arrested Again,” “German Spy School”), and numerous highlighted sidebars, defining terms like handler and double agent, intersperse the text. Final chapters provide a brief roundup of additional spies, including Roald Dahl and children as young as nine who aided the French Resistance, as well as Morse code and Navajo code-talker cipher messages to decode and recipes for invisible ink. A clear, age-appropriate introduction to spycraft and WWII history that may well pique interest in both topics. Back matter contains a multipage timeline, source notes, a bibliography including personal interviews, and further reading. Ages 8–12. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 11/05/2020
Release date: 11/17/2020
Genre: Children's
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