... Famous Spies includes thumbnail sketches of Sidney Reilly, one of the men considered a source for the character James Bond, and prominent U.S. double agent Aldrich Ames. The presentation is highly visual, employing a balance of vivid accent color, cartoonish drawings, and stock photos to evoke a mysterious, Cold War past. Some volumes, particularly those covering disguises and spy strategies, are rich with suggestions for trying out espionage techniques, such as putting a pebble in a shoe to change one's gait or noticing the differences between two seemingly identical photos ... VERDICT An additional selection where narrative nonfiction is in demand for very young readers.
A cartoon goon in a trench coat and fedora lurks through the pages of this high-interest offering in the Spy Kid series (6 titles). The short sentences, alluring topic, and visually appealing design—a mix of digital art and period photos accented with primary-colored pop-art flair—will intrigue even reluctant or struggling readers. Each two-page spread profiles a famous spy, giving a brief account of their clandestine activities and ultimate fate; differences in motive (money versus principles) and type of spy (e.g., double agent) are also given. Three men and three women are featured, including James Bond–inspiration Sidney Reilly and WWII spies Krystyna Skarbek and Virginia Hall. The final chapter offers some advice and skills tips for wannabe spies, while three critical-thinking questions encourage more serious contemplation. A sneaky crowd-pleaser.