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How I Became a Spy: A Mystery of WWII London
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How I Became a Spy: A Mystery of WWII London

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  61 ratings  ·  32 reviews
From the award-winning author of The Great Trouble comes a story of espionage, survival, and friendship during World War II.

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 Ameri
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Amanda No, it is historical fiction. However, the book includes real people and events.

Community Reviews

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4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  61 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: war, word-play
Bertie is helping out as a volunteer air-raid messenger during a bombing in London during World War II when his dog finds a battered red notebook and leads him to a mysterious young woman lying on the ground. He brings help for her, but she has disappeared, without explanation. When a feisty American girl comes in search of the notebook, Bertie is drawn into a mystery that involves ciphers, the Allied invasion, and spies.

How I Became a Spy is a captivating story, with strong characters, perfect
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was such a delight to read! It is gear towards preteen and teenagers. Adults will enjoy reading it.

It tells of a young boy during WWII and how he learned to be a spy.

I enjoyed learning how to be an amateur spy such as how to decipher a code, how to tell if someone is following you and how to lose the person.

This young hero has captured my heart. This story helped my imagination grow bigger. I imagined being with him in the book.

This book that will help the YA understand the era of WWII
Kathy Martin
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This middle grade historical mystery stars Bertie Bradshaw, Eleanor Shea, and David Goodman. These thirteen-year-olds find themselves solving ciphers to find a German double agent in London before the specifics of D-Day can be discovered and sent to Germany.

Bertie's father is a policeman. Bertie is working as an air-raid messenger. One evening when the sirens go off, Bertie grabs his dog Little Roo and heads out to the air-raid shelter. He directs everyone he sees to the nearest shelter includin
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How I Became a Spy by Deborah Hopkinson 5 stars

I start this by saying I am not the right demographic for this book, but I enjoyed it all the same. The book was fun to read and had codes to solve for parts of the book. Aside from the adventure and intrigue, there were several strong historical references in this book. - The plight of Jewish children that escaped before the roundups; the food deprivation in Britain during the war; PTSD for the people of London that survived the Blitz; the entrance
Ms. Yingling
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Bertie is a very young civil defense volunteer who lives with his father at a boarding house for single policeman after the family home was destroyed and his mother and brother relocated to the country. On his first official call, he forgets his helmet, brings along his dog, Little Roo, and leaves his coat with an unconscious woman he finds in an alley. He also finds a red notebook after an encounter with an American girl, but later realizes that the notebook belongs to
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
It's 1944, American servicemen have arrived in London and everyone is talking about the pending invasion of France to break the Nazi stronghold in Europe and end Hitler's reign. London is being bombed once again by the Germans, and for Bertie Bradshaw, 13, and his rescue dog Little Roo, it means finally being old enough to become a messenger for the Civil Defense post in his neighborhood.

One night, as the air raid sirens begin, Bertie bumps into an American girl in a blue coat about his age, who
Panda Incognito
This well-researched book captures the local color and worldwide stakes of WWII in London, but even though I am impressed with the author's thoroughness and accuracy, the mystery fell flat for me. In this novel, children try to solve a mystery based on a spy's notebook, learning how to decode ciphers and read her entries about operations in France. This is somewhat plausible, but the first several entries are written in plain English, saying things like, "I'm training as a spy! I'm with the SOE! ...more
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How I Became a Spy

By Deborah Hopkinson @deborah_hopkinson

Published by Random House Kids @randomhousekids

Thank you to the author and @kidlitexchange for sharing a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Oh, this story! It grabbed me from the moment I started reading and I couldn’t put it down!
From the first page, I felt the danger of wartime London in 1944. I understood the characters constant fear that bombs could fall at any moment. I felt their hunger as they faced endless days of powdere
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think it would be cool, but I've never had the spirit or the smarts to be a spy, so when I read the advanced reader copy of Deborah Hopkinson's newest book, How I Became I Spy: A Mystery of WWII London (coming February 12th, 2019), I felt that I had reached a new goal while following the story of Bertie Bradshaw, a young boy living in WWII London.

Summary: Penguin Random House states, "Bertie Bradshaw never set out to become a spy. He never imagined traipsing around war-torn London, solving cip
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids-9-12-picks
“How I Became a Spy,” by Deborah Hopkinson, a World War II mystery has an exciting plot with factual details about London, believable/empathic characters, and examples of ciphers that will be fun to figure out with young readers.
Special Operations Executive agents (SOE), who volunteered to go to Europe as spies prior to the Allied Invasion, provide the informational backdrop of the novel. These brave souls sent back messages, ciphers, in code. Many of the agents were women, like Violette who’s f
First sentence: I wasn't thinking about becoming a spy that night. I was just trying to be brave, do a good job, and stay out of trouble. It wasn't going well.

Premise/plot: Bertie Bradshaw stars in this World War II adventure. It begins during an air raid. Bertie and his dog, L.R. "Little Roo," are doing their duty--their volunteer service. He sees a girl drop something--what turns out to be a journal--and later sees a woman collapsed on the sidewalk. He goes for help, but by the time he returns
Amber Webb
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How I Became A Spy was a phenomenal historical middle grade fiction. I loved the setting, the characters, the codes, the mystery and the intrigue. Okay, I loved everything about this book! The story of three young children during WWII in London who were suddenly takes with solving a major war mystery. I loved the quotes to start each chapter, the connection to Sherlock Holmes and the focus on the importance and power of children. This book will appeal to a broad range of readers because of the h ...more
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, historical, youth
Bertie didn't meant to become a spy, but he found a battered notebook while volunteering for the civil defense and ends up part of a big mystery about an Allied traitor, working with an American girl and a Jewish refugee. Entertaining and full of action, with codes for readers to break. Really fun and engaging.
Smart Bookaholics Inc Bookstore
What a great read this was! I'd even go as far as to say this is in a way a coming of age book. I really enjoyed this book. I'm usually not into books that pertain to the war, but this author entwined a wonderful plot into a not so wonderful era! Thank you Net-galley for the free earc in exchange for an honest review.
Rachel Yoder
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ms-books
So many fun things in this book. Loved the ciphers. Enjoyed the lesser known historical WWII focus. I knew there would be something exciting coming, and then suddenly I didn’t want to quit reading to find out how it ended.
Karen Arendt
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bertie is a great character as are his friends Eleanor and David. The story is exciting, and the puzzles add reader engagement. This is a great story for anyone who is interested in WWII history.
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Mystery, spies, double agents, coded messages, a heroic dog, and WWII! How I Became A Spy takes place from February 18 until March 1, 1944, a time period which affected the successful invasion held on D-Day.

Bertie is a 13-year-old who lives in a London experiencing the Little Blitz attacks. Feeling guilt over his older brother’s serious injuries from the Blitz a few years before, Bertie lives in the police barracks with his father and serves as a civil defense volunteer with Little Roo, his dog
Kate Waggoner
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-read
@kidlitexchange #partner
Thank you to the @kidlitexchange newtwork and the publisher for the advance copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

When Bertie Bradshaw left that night to complete his shift as an air raid messenger, he never dreamed of becoming a spy. All that changed after he had a run-in (literally) with a mysterious American girl and found a red notebook. The notebook included notes from secret agent training lectures and what looked like a bunch of gibberish. With some help from
Michelle Kidwell
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How I Became a Spy
A Mystery of WWII London
by Deborah Hopkinson
Random House Children's
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Children's Fiction
Pub Date 12 Feb 2019

I an reviewing a viewing a copy of How I Became A Spy through Random House Children’s and Netgalley:

Bertie Bradshaw did not set out to become a spy. He could never have imagined traipsing all over war torn London, learning to solve ciphers and pract surveillance as well as searching for Traitors of the allied forces. He never expected to do these
Story Eater
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Part spy thriller, part detective procedural, How I Became a Spy is a WWII story that places some context around the air raids in London and their effect on the collective mental stress for the city of London (and the whole of the UK) during the war. It also draws specific attention to one of the most important events toward the end of the war, D-Day.

Hopkinson does an amazing job of engaging the reader to become involved, visually and kinesthetically, through puzzle and cipher activities interl
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it
- This was a fun story, but I don't have much to say about it.

- I liked that the book was a mystery and historical fiction. It was fun to see WWII from a younger perspective.

- I really liked learning about different codes and how to decipher them.

- The relationship between Bertie and his dog is really cute.

- The story starts out slow, but it gathers interest along the way.

- I think this was a fun and cute story, and I think the target audience will have a lot of fun with it.
Marilyn Smith
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventures-8-12
If you love solving codes and spy craft, this is your book.
Bertie's a civil dense volunteer (WWII) which helps the war effort in London. When he tries to help two people find the closet shelter they brush him off. It's only the next day that Bertie realizes these two people may be involved in a spy ring but on whose side?
Bertie and friends have only a few days to decode the messages he's found to get to the real story.
Looks of codes to solve, surveillance tips and plain old detecting work makes
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This a great title for middle grade readers. It has just the right amount of action, truth, worry and friendship woven into a accurate portrayal of the resistance. I can't wait to share it with Eddie - he's so interested in how people behave together and what their motivations are.
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an engrossing middle-grade spy story that will appeal to kids who like historical fiction or adventure.

*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
Annika K.
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How I Became A Spy is a captivating story. I would recommend this book for 10 - 13-year-olds. I found it very hard to put down at times. I also enjoyed reading about Little Roo (the dog). All in all, I think this book is a good, gripping book.
Leonard Kim
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
There are books of Hopkinson’s I’ve really admired. I felt this one did not do enough to disguise information transmission as a compelling story. Violette’s journal in particular did not feel credible to me.
Jennifer Guyor Jowett
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an adventure. WWII London. Espionage. Ciphers. Codebreaking. Mystery. Sherlock Holmes channeling. Friendship. Daring. This book has it all!
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a really good historical fiction/ mystery book and it is one of Deborahs best
Paige Bradish
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Review to come soon
Elizabeth Schwertfuehrer
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Code breaking and mystery will be a big hit with readers. Will use for BOB.
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I write picture books, nonfiction, and middle grade fiction. I love history and visiting schools to talk to young readers (Pre-K - 8 and sometimes high schools).


Recent awards for picture books include ORDINARY, EXTRAORDINARY JANE being named a 2019 Oregon Book Award finalist. I received the Jane Adda