July 2013, Piccadilly Press, 192 pages, Paperback, Review copy
Themes: leaving your old life, huge family secrets, moving house, pretending to be a girl, stereotypes, girly girls, awesome spy gadgets,secret room, sneaking about, suspicious goings on, finding an important mission,
Content: Lots of humour, some major peril, lots of minor peril,
Summary from Piccadilly Press
James Bond never had to wear a dress!
Joe discovers his parents are spies – which is great. But Joe’s parents are in danger – which is not so great. And Joe has to go undercover as a girl – which is definitely not great at all.
Joe (now ‘Josephine’) is miserable when he starts his new school in a blond wig, dress and tights. But soon he has a spy mission of his own. Using a host of unusual gadgets, Joe investigates some suspicious goings on. But can he do so without revealing his true identity?
I expected this book to be fun - what I didn't expect was to adore Joe's character and all he goes through. It makes it an ideal read for boys and girls because they can learn something about how they view each other through Joe's experience of learning the truth about girls. Truth is a big part of the story, it's not everyday you find out your parents are spies.
Joe does freak out a little bit, especially with having to leave everything he loves behind when they
move, but he understands that staying safe is important. There are a few moments in the book where the stakes are high but I really like how there is more focus on the positive side of being in a family of spies and being undercover, rather than making the enemies of Joe's parents' terrifying. Joe's interaction with both boys and girls in his new disguise isn't all plain sailing, but thankfully he manages to have some fun, and even make a new firm friend. I'm most definitely looking forward to seeing poor Joe in a dress in the next book!
For another book which is hilarious (nothing to do with spying exactly, but some spying does go on) try Pea's Book of Best Friends by Susie Day (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E)