14 February 2019

Blog Tour ARC Review: How I Became A Spy by Deborah Hopskinson

How I Became A Spy by Deborah Hopkinson
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books For Young Readers
Release Date: February 12, 2019
Book Format: ARC
# of Pages: 248
Synopsis: Bertie Bradshaw never set out to become a spy. He never imagined traipsing around war-torn London, solving ciphers, practicing surveillance, and searching for a traitor to the Allied forces. He certainly never expected that a strong-willed American girl named Eleanor would play Watson to his Holmes (or Holmes to his Watson, depending on who you ask).

But when a young woman goes missing, leaving behind a coded notebook, Bertie is determined to solve the mystery. With the help of Eleanor and his friend David, a Jewish refugee--and, of course, his trusty pup, Little Roo--Bertie must decipher the notebook in time to stop a double agent from spilling the biggest secret of all to the Nazis.

From the author of The Great Trouble, this suspenseful WWII adventure reminds us that times of war call for bravery, brains and teamwork from even the most unlikely heroes.

My Thoughts
How I Became A Spy by Deborah Hopkinson follows a young man by the name of Bertie who takes on the responsibility of warning the citizens of his town in Great Britain during air raids which are beginning to happen more and more frequently with the invasion upon them. On his first day on the job, he meets two mysterious ladies: one who drops a very important notebook before running off and the other who is seemingly dead on the side of the road before disappearing completely before Bertie can make his way back to her with help.

Upon looking through the dropped notebook, Bertie discovers some cryptic notes that he is not sure of. He can tell one thing for sure, and that is that the notebook is important, but what any of it means, he is not sure of just yet. After reading the entirety of the journal, he realizes that the writer must be a spy and he sets out to find who the owner might be.

Along the way, he bumps back into the girl who dropped the journal in the first place, and she is angry at first but eventually comes to trust Bertie and the two work hard together to figure out what the notebook means and how they can find the girl it belongs too. Not only do the two find themselves revealing what it is like to be a spy and everything that goes into it but they are also figuring out things about their city and the war that they never understood before.

This is a middle grade categorized story which means it is all strictly friendship based. Eleanor--who is Bertie’s American friend--becomes closer with his bet dog Little Roo than she is with him. Little Roo provides a lot of comfort for the characters in this book between rescuing people in danger during air raids, being a companion to Bertie and just being friendly to everyone else. This little dog had to be my favorite addition to the story.

Hopkinson did a great job giving us characters that not only were coming together to solve a mystery but who were also dealing with their own issues and overcoming those on the side as well. To have a good character they need to have many different characteristics as my old writing teacher would say rather than one or the other. The inclusion of more than one attribute gives us a character who is flawed and working to fix themselves in front of us which gives them the opportunity to connect with us as readers. 

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