Sunday, February 17, 2013

spy school by STUART GIBBS

 There is something about espionage that fascinates me.  Kim Philby and the Cambridge Five, and Aldrich Ames of the CIA intrigue me.  What drives a person to be a spy?  What makes them turn into a double agent?  I don’t read many spy books, but I love to watch spy shows.  Right now I am streaming MI-5 on Netflix, one of my favorites movies is Another Country loosely based on Kim Philby; and Homeland on Showtime is nail biting.  And the crème de la crème James Bond which keeps getting better. 

My mom once said, “James Bond movies are OK.  They’d be better if they were more realistic!”  Really, what can you say to that?  Except, if they were more realistic they wouldn’t be any good.

Last year Guy’s Read Book Club read belly up by Stuart Gibbs.  It was by far the favorite book of the year.  Many parents ended up reading it as well.  Recently, I found Mr. Gibbs newest book spy school while scouring the shelves at The Bookies.  I was very excited to see a new book from a great author.  After finishing the book I stand by my statement about Stuart Gibbs.

Spy School is a covert school located in Washington DC.  The CIA runs it, and its sole purpose is to train kids to be spies.  Most of the instructors are ex CIA operatives.  In other words that are too old or incompetent to be spies!   One day an average nerdy, 12 year old, named Ben Ripley comes home to find Alexander Hale, a spy, sitting in his living room. (Later we find that Alexander Hale is a total “Dig Me!”) Alexander is there to take Ben to spy school.  Ben is a mathematical genius, so he is told that he has qualified to be a spy.  What they didn’t tell him was the truth.  He is, actually, supposed to be a patsy, or a trap. While at Spy School he makes new friends, new enemies, and quickly finds out he is in over his head. Oh, and he saves the day.

OK, so that was a very brief blurb on the book.  I figure I would spend the time writing about what I like about the book.  Just like belly up, it is very funny.  Not slap stick funny, but situational funny.  Mr. Gibbs creates these very unrealistic situations that once you finish reading you say. “On, I could totally see that happening!”  The book is filled with wonderful characters.  It is very hard to figure out friend or foe.  This is important in a mystery.  I, also, like that Ben knows that he is not perfect. 

Another thing I like about the book is the layout.  Each chapter is titled, followed by location, date, and time.  I am not going to give the chapter number, but one chapter is titled:  
Cheney Center for the Acquisition of Information

Most kids aren’t going to get the references, but REALLY how funny is this!

I quickly read this book, and I am giving it to a student this morning.  Unfortunately, the book is not right for Guy’s Read.  It is very much a high 4th grade and above.  Not just reading level, but content.  You know just because they can read it doesn’t make it right.