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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

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3.92  ·  Rating details ·  342 ratings  ·  87 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-
...more
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.

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Average rating 3.92  · 
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Mehrdad Zaa
This book is a mystery-historical story appropriate for middle grade and teenagers. Bertie and his friends try to solve cypher codes and find the Nazi's spy in London. You will learn about cypher codes while reading about WWII incidents in London. It's an amuzing book for teens who like mystery novels.
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
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Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
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Quirkybookworm
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
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Denise Chojnacki
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids
I thought this book was a wonderful combination of a story that contained action, although not action-packed, mystery and good writing. I wasn't necessarily glued to each page but the story flowed really well to keep the reader very interested. A bonus was the cipher codes in the back for kids to try their own messages and be their own detectives. The interactive nature of this book would be a great draw for young readers. There were also some underlying themes of forgiveness and family that dee ...more
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
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Alex  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
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Myarn
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
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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
Mr. Gottshalk
Apr 01, 2019 rated it liked it
There's a lot going on in this book - falling bombs, spy activity, the city of London coping with war, and a group of kids who are pretty great at cracking secret codes. However, it just didn't sit right with me. This book felt too much like an adult telling kids what to do, what to say and where to go. And I doubt enough 4th-6th graders have enough background knowledge of England during the middle of World War II. It was...ok. I mean, I finished it in a few days, but after reading The War That ...more
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.
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.
Susan
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
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Jennifer
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
...more
Chris
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
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Becky
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
...more
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
Shelley
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, youth, 2019
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.
Linus
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
It was a really good book. It taught me some about WWII in London.

I didn't like how it didn't tell you about capturing the bad guy.
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.
Kristin
A solid read that was maybe more educational than thrilling, but I liked the style. Aside from the unlikely premise of a spy keeping a code journal that could easily be found and decoded, I thought the rest of the story worked well. It was a little anticlimactic, but this is a good read for spy lovers.
Lesley
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
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Becky B
Bertie has volunteered as an air-raid messenger in WWII London. He and his dog, Little Roo, take messages about where crews are needed or that help is on the way. Little Roo also helps by sniffing out people in the heaps of rubble after bombings. One night, Bertie literally runs into a young American girl during a raid. He tells her where the nearest bomb shelter is but after she is gone discovers she dropped a notebook. When he looks inside of it later, he discovers it is full of notes on how t ...more
Diane
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“To learn from the past, understand the present, and change the future.”

Bertie is living in London during the Blitz and the air raids are starting to take a toll. Even in Bertie’s family, his older brother, Will, is injured in a bombing. Bertie was there that night, too, and is fighting the guilt over what happened. “I didn’t see how Will or Mum could forgive me. I couldn't forgive myself.” In fact, when Will and his mother leave London for Will’s recuperation, Bertie stays in London with his da
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Anita McDivitt Barrios
How I Became a Spy is a fiction book that would be a LOT of fun to teach!

On his first time out as an air-raid messenger, Bertie forgets his civil defense volunteer badge and his torch (flashlight). He bumps into Eleanor, an American girl, and warns her to take cover. When the bombing is over, his dog, Little Roo, finds a woman slumped in the street and although Bertie pumps his legs on his bicycle as fast as he can, by the time he reports her and convinces rescuers to come to where he knows he
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Laurie Hnatiuk
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
I love it when I stumble upon a new author!
A well researched story set in London during WWII that not only entertains but educates readers. Bertie never set out to be a spy - he has enough to deal with- trying to make up for an incident that happened with his own family during a German plane raid. Attempting to make up for this incident, Bertie acts as a messenger during raids and his dog LR (short for Little Roo) helps locate victims in collapsed buildings.
One night that all changes when he c
...more
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
...more
Traci
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
12 y/o Bertie lives in London during WWII. He is a civil defense volunteer who helps get important messages to rescue workers during air raids. During one raid Bertie and his dog LR ( short for Little Roo) , run into a girl on the street. After the girl leaves LR finds a notebook she left behind. After smelling the notebook LR, who is trained as a search & rescue dog, leads Bertie to an alley where a young woman lays unconscious. Bertie goes for help but when he returns the woman is gone. Suspec ...more
Valerie McEnroe
I'm a big fan of Hopkinson's work, but this novel did not have the intensity I've come to appreciate in her writing. I'm starting to think it's a fiction/nonfiction thing. I prefer her nonfiction books.

This is a historical fiction novel about a British boy who works as an air raid messenger during World War II. When the sirens go off, his job is to run around urging people to take shelter. On one such raid, he bumps into an American girl who drops a book. The book turns out to be a spy's diary,
...more
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