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Book Review: ‘Spy School’i s Fun Read for Kids

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by Sophia Ridge

“Spy School” by Stuart Gibbs is about a 12-year-old kid named Ben Ripley. This is a fictional book about Ben’s life and some people who may be acting evil as part of a big mystery.

It starts with someone in Ben’s house who says they are a member of the CIA. From there, Ben gets recruited to a secret school for spies. This book has a lot of secrets, so I want to be careful not to give too much away. Ben is excited about this school, but a flashback also reveals that it was the worst decision he ever made.

I like this book because there are a lot of things you don’t expect, and at times it is hard to tell which spies are acting on the bad side and which spies are acting on the good side.

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It is very mysterious from the beginning, with a letter from the CIA headquarters, and parts of it are blacked out, so you don’t even know the full letter or quite what is going on.

There are some parts of the book I don’t like. Ben makes gender assumptions that someone saving him was a boy because they are strong, but it was a girl. People should not assume gender in books or real life, or assume one way of being makes you one gender or not. But in a way it is a good part of the story, because Ben learns a lesson as this girl becomes important to the story and ends up saving him a lot. 

I would recommend this book for kids who like spying, mysteries, and trying to figure out puzzles with clues. Ben is also really good at math and uses that to his advantage; for example, if he is going to drop a book on someone who is chasing him, he can calculate exactly when to drop the book so it slows them down and knocks them out. I liked reading about math being used in the spy world because I enjoy math too!

These books stand out at the library or bookstore because although you can’t judge a book by its cover, they are bright graphic colors with a kid in a spy coat in silhouette with bright sneakers on. I love the art on the cover. What’s also good about this book is that if you like it (like me!) there are several more in the series to keep you reading and having fun. I’m starting to read the next one in the series called “Spy Camp”!