cover image City of Spies

City of Spies

Laurence Klavan, Susan Kim, Hilary Sycamore, . . Roaring Brook/First Second, $17 (172pp) ISBN 978-1-59643-262-8

This graphic novel takes the kid detective genre to the world of WWII espionage. In this case, the role of Nancy Drew is being played by Evelyn, a 10-year-old girl who's recently come to live with her free-spirited aunt in New York City. Imaginative and bored, Evelyn and her friend Tony see spies everywhere, with decidedly mixed results. Unlike the Hardy Boys or Boxcar Children, they don't always get it right, and their false alarm about a surly doorman makes for embarrassing headlines. Eventually, they do happen upon a real Nazi spy, and they're off on an exciting adventure, hiding in bakery vans, sneaking into parties, and decoding secret messages with a little help from Evelyn's Aunt Lia and a friendly policeman. The writers manage the difficult trick of writing real children into a terrific adventure story, and the book is completely age-appropriate without ever talking down to its readers. Dizin's loopily expressive art has a period feel while still looking fresh and kid-friendly. His work on “Zirconium Man and Scooter,” Evelyn's comic about herself and her absent father as superheroes, is particularly charming. City of Spies is a good old-fashioned adventure story and rip-roaring fun. Ages 12–up. (May)