STARRED REVIEW
February 20, 2019

How I Became a Spy

By Deborah Hopkinson
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In Deborah Hopkinson’s How I Became a Spy, readers will find an action-packed story centered on a diary complete with coded messages, mysterious strangers and a new friendship.

During London’s “Little Blitz” of 1944, 13-year-old Bertie volunteers as a civil defense messenger, which means he has the dangerous job of riding his bicycle during air raids in order to deliver messages to and from bomb sites and command centers. After Bertie finds the diary that an American girl drops after they collide in the darkness of wartime London, Bertie’s rescue-trained pup finds an unresponsive woman in a nearby alley. However, she has disappeared without a trace when Bertie brings the team back to save her.

Bertie is able to track down the American girl who dropped the diary, and together with his Jewish friend David, who came to England before the war began to escape the Nazis, they become a formidable cipher-busting trio.

Historical accuracy is compounded by the quotes that begin most chapters citing spy instructions from Britain’s Special Operations Executive Manual, and other chapters begin with quotes from Sherlock Holmes, who serves as the children’s inspiration for solving the mysteries of the diary. An engrossing tour through wartime London.

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How I Became a Spy

How I Became a Spy

By Deborah Hopkinson
Knopf
ISBN 9780399557064

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