Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Spy with the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers, #2)” as Want to Read:
The Spy with the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers, #2)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Spy with the Red Balloon

(The Balloonmakers #2)

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  110 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Siblings Ilse and Wolf hide a deep secret in their blood: with it, they can work magic. And the government just found out.Blackmailed into service during World War II, Ilse lends her magic to America’s newest weapon, the atom bomb, while Wolf goes behind enemy lines to sabotage Germany’s nuclear program. It’s a dangerous mission, but if Hitler were to create the bomb first ...more
Hardcover, 362 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Albert Whitman Company
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Amy Leigh
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
I really enjoyed this book just as much as the first in this series! They read in a way that if you read them out of order you would be okay but I don't recommend missing either book. The way the author intertwines magic and history into a ya fantasy novel is brilliant.

Ilse and Wolf are siblings with a special type of magic that comes from their blood. This is World War II and they are both tricked into using their magic for the war. Wolf is a spy working on the Germans to try to keep Nazi Germ
Katherine Locke
Dec 12, 2016 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: i-wrote-this
UPDATE: 9/24/17
IT HAS A TITLE! The Spy with the Red Balloon will arrive Fall 2018 (if everything stays on track...). Please enjoy my Queer Jewish Kids Punch Nazis While Doing Science and Sabotaging Hitler book.

Previous review:
To be fair, I haven't finished writing this book yet. But I wanted to leave a review in case people had questions when The Girl with the Red Balloon #1 ARCs started to appear in the new year:

1. This is not a sequel. It takes place about 45 years BEFORE the first book and h
Sep 22, 2018 added it
Shelves: 2018-releases
I just can't get over how quickly and deeply I fell for these characters. As in the first book, some of the science and magic stuff went over my head, but I really didn't care. The writing is just so gorgeous, the characters so special, and the stakes so high I read this in a state of panic that was partly deserved but so well worth it.
Abi (The Knights Who Say Book)
My feelings about this book are intense and therefore completely indescribable, so this is going to be an utterly useless review.

Like, it has flaws? I definitely thought at times that the writing could just be overall better, and that it was too slow, and that it was somehow just not giving me enough even though I loved every concept in it. You know when you like a book but are at the same time completely exasperated by it? I think this book needed to give us more about Ilse's friends and how th
Lulu (the library leopard)
i see you, random person who decided to give this book a one star review even though it's a sequel to a book that isn't even OUT
Kate Welsh
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Spies! World War II! Math and science and magic all intertwined! Big difficult philosophical questions! Historical fiction including characters of diverse races and religions and sexualities! Complicated sibling and friendship and romantic dynamics! SO MANY THINGS I LOVE ALL TOGETHER.

UPDATED 10/2: Read my blog post about the book and interview with author Katherine Locke right here!
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This exceeded all of my expectations, and then some. I'm going to be recommending this at every opportunity.
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Please Note: I received an advance copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Reading The Girl With The Red Balloon last year, I was struck by how the author, Katherine Locke created both an historical novel, and an imaginative fantasy novel. Her newest book, The Spy With The Red Balloon, takes place in the same universe of magic, but with a different historical setting and characters. Once again, I am blown away
Sep 07, 2017 marked it as to-read
I'm ready to suffer
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was just as good as it's companion novel, The Girl With The Red Balloon. I loved how realistic this book was and how it made the magic seem possible. The writing style was brilliant and I can' t wait to read more by Ms. Locke. The characters were also very well written and I loved them with all of my heart. The plot was very intense and I was kept on the edge of my seat the whole book.
Emme Huffman
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful companion to The Girl with the Red Balloon. I love Ilse and Wolf so much. Ilse is unapologetically smart and resourceful. Wolf is very protective of the people he loves. Their relationship with each other works so well. They recognize each other's strengths and play off of that, even when they are apart.

The Spy with the Red Balloon felt, at times like a prequel. I don't want to say too much so that I don't spoil anything, but it sets up a lot of what we see in The Girl with
This was a bit of a slow start for me, but I loved Wolfe and Ilse from page 1. As it went on, it became more and more addicting and I was desperate to get to each chapter and make sure everyone was okay. Also this was SO queer, which was wonderful.
Sinead (Huntress of Diverse Books)
I received a copy of The Spy with the Red Balloon from Netgalley. I had heard a lot of good things about the first book in this companion series The Girl with the Red Balloon, which I have unfortunately not had the time to read yet. They are both historical fiction novels set at the time of World War II, that have magic in it, and Jewish main characters.

This book is #ownvoices for Jewish representation.

Check out my book blog for more book reviews and other bookish posts!


While reading this, I k
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight


Wow, this book is good. It's a companion to  The Girl with the Red Balloon , and it's absolutely just as strong as its predecessor. Which is a hard feat, because I loved its predecessor, so. The only minor qualm I had was that a few things were a bit predictable- but honestly, it didn't really dampen the impact of the story, so whatever. So let's go ahead and talk about the stuff I
Other Rachel
"Get in, losers," she called out. "We're blowing up Nazis."


In a companion story to The Girl with the Red Balloon, the stakes are high as America joins the second World War. The government is tracking people with magic abilities, drafting them for the fight. Ilse and Wolf Klein are caught in the middle of practicing and are separated to do their necessary part in ensuring America’s survival. Combative Ilse is sent to lead a group in the Manhattan Project where a spy threatens to spill their se
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love this series way too much.
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
By far one of THE best books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It was thrilling, suspenseful, heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once. I won't lie, I was scared as hell the entire way through, but each character and each part of this book have left an imprint on my heart and I am so glad I was able to read it. I can't even imagine the research that went into this book.

I don't even know what else to say. It's a book that, once it's finished, leaves you a little speechless. Thank you for
Rachel Goldstein
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was so excited to read this book because I adored The Girl with the Red Balloon; and this prequel is rich in history, magic, troubling grey areas, and beautiful language in the same way. The unique thing that I love most about it is the sibling relationship between Wolf and Ilse--their closeness and their clashes and similarities and perceived inadequacies and deep understanding and constant sniping. It's a relationship that gets you invested right away. And as comforting and familiar as it in ...more
Ben Truong
The Spy with the Red Balloon is the second book in The Balloonmakers series and written by Katherine Locke. It is centers on sixteen year-old Ilse Klein and her older brother, Wolf Klein, two Jewish, German-American youths living in 1943. They have a closely guarded secret: there is magic in their blood – literally. When they write scientific equations with their blood – magical things can happen.

When Isle Klein accidentally sets fire to a kite using her magic and it is witnessed by a government
Bree Garcia
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
There are some books that, once you finish reading them, you know for a fact that you're going to read it again. And soon. Both books in the Balloonmakers series are like that. The Girl with the Red Balloon was sweet and smart, and it made my heart ache during my reading and especially after. The Spy with the Red Balloon is no different. I thought I would be upset that Katherine Locke didn't continue the story of Ellie and Kai, but once I met Ilse and Wolf, I knew I wouldn't be upset for long.


Featured in World War II Wednesday on Intellectual Recreation.

Last year I read Katherine Locke's The Girl With the Red Balloon, and it made me really curious to learn more about the magical balloonists of the past. Well, I got my wish. In The Spy with the Red Balloon, Ms. Locke takes us back about 45 years to World War II.

The story stars siblings Ilse and Wolf. They are recruited to help the war effort with their magic. Wolf is sent overseas as a spy, and Ilse become part of the Manhattan p
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
*Spoiler free*

The Spy With the Red Balloon is a companion novel to The Girl With the Red Balloon, but they can be read completely separately! I really enjoyed Girl, it had such a haunting tone to it, so I was excited to see what Spy would hold!

I almost stopped reading a handful of times. It takes a bit to get acclimated with the world and the science/magic can get very confusing very fast. I kinda just disconnected from it and stopped trying to make sense of it all and that helped!

After a bit, t
Halli Gomez
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
THE SPY WITH THE RED BALLOON is the second book, but it occurs earlier than the first, a nice twist. This time we are in the 1940’s fighting World War II

Katherine Locke takes us to World War II with the Klein siblings, Ilse and Wolf. We’re fortunate to be a part of this story from different locations and points of view. These compelling stories are beautifully woven together. Cleverly created concepts of magic and science bring us into Ilse and Wolf’s world and their involuntary recruitment to t
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ace-spectrum
I loved almost all of the characters here. Ilse is so young and quick and earnest. Wolf is more contained, but he feels just as strongly, just as stubborn, and more intelligent than he gives himself credit for. He loves so quickly. Both of them grow over the course of just a few months here, and I really appreciated that Ilse's journey shows that growth doesn't always look like increased certainty. Sometimes we need to be more uncertain first.

I laughed because there's sibling banter and teammate
Oct 23, 2018 rated it liked it
3/5 stars

Historical fiction for me is tricky, but reading this right after a book I loved (also historical fiction) I just didn't find myself interested. I got bored A LOT, so much that I felt lile stopping at points or skimming pages. There were times where I was actually really interested, but they werw few and far between. Beginning was unbearably slow where I nearly DNFd it 70 pages in. The ending was nice and tied it to a nice bow, leaving it open for interpretation. But yeah, this definite
Jenni Frencham
Locke, Katherine. The Spy with the Red Balloon. Albert Whitman & Company, 2018.

Ilse and Wolf can work magic with their blood, but their experiments are put on hold by the second world war. Ilse is assisting the Americans in building a bomb, while Wolf is sent behind German lines to sabotage German plans for the same type of weapon. Will they be able to keep each other alive and also maintain their secrets?

This book has some great character development and world building and is a perfect book
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wolf and Max were <3 <3 and worth an extra star on their own. Ilse grew on me after a few chapters. At first, I found her very analytical way of relating to things difficult to connect with, but I really admired her bravery+strength. There were a few definite "punch you in the feels" chapters with this one.

I ultimately enjoyed this a lot, despite a slow start and a lot of predictable elements. More of a 3.5, but I like to round up. As with the first book, I felt the historical research /
I received a free ebook from Netgalley. This does not affect my review.
I like the premise of this story, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to work unless you've read the first book. It assumes too much prior knowledge - there's no explanation of where the magic comes from or who can wield it, which I presume is covered in the first book. I also found other aspects difficult to suspend belief for - putting a 16yo in charge of a critical team seems unlikely, somehow. It's a real shame, because wit
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Katherine Locke lives and writes in a small town outside Philadelphia, where she’s ruled by her feline overlords and her addiction to chai lattes. She writes about that which she cannot do: ballet, magic, and time travel. She secretly believes all stories are fairytales in disguise. Her YA debut, THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON, arrives September 2017 from Albert Whitman & Comapny.

Other books in the series

The Balloonmakers (2 books)
  • The Girl with the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers, #1)