My Mum is A Spy - Andy McNab, Jess French, ill. by Nathan Reed
Idris’s stepsister Lucia is CONVINCED his mum is a spy, but he’s not having any of it; she’s much too boring, and he’s far more interested in Lucia’s dad’s job as an exotic animal vet at the local zoo.
Despite Lucia’s persistence and nonstop hinting, Idris refuses to believe that his mum could be working undercover. She wasn’t checking if she was being followed, she just got lost at the roundabout. And he must have just imagined a secret message being dropped in her pocket, right?
When the pangolins at the central zoo are stolen, Lucia is determined to find the culprit, whilst Idris wants nothing to do with it. But when his mum is kidnapped after a bizarre family trip to the zoo, they’re pulled into a world of secret messages and spy gadgets and embark on a wild adventure to find his mum and the pangolin thief. Will they be able to find the criminal mastermind behind the pangolin theft before it’s too late? Why was Budi the orangutan so sad? And is Idris’s mum REALLY a spy?
It's an honour to kick off the blog tour for 'My Mum Is A Spy', the first in what promises to be a great series for 7+ readers from great writing pairing, Andy McNab and Jess French, and illustrated by Nathan Reed.
I've been a fan of Andy McNab's action thrillers for adults since I was a teen, and I'm thrilled I'll be able to share the action-packed thrills of his writing with my pupils through this brilliant little book, which ( I'm sure he'll be happy to hear!) really packs a punch in its pages!
There's spycraft and technical terminology galore - reminding me of Horowitz Alex Rider-style writing, with details of dead drops, hidden messages, drones and fast car brands -alongside a trail of clues to keep the reader guessing about who is the true baddie.
Danger, twists and red herrings are thrown in along the way, alongside nods to environmental issues through the details and comments made about zoos, endangered species and animal trafficking, which form the mainstay of the plot. There's also a nod for old-school espionage aficionados in the name of Leola's dog, Philby...
I loved the mix of characters being very inclusive - split families, hearing aid wearing sidekick Leila, and a female James Bond-esque mum. Idris' relationship with his mum is also an interesting dynamic that runs alongside. There's a lot packed into this in terms of themes and issues, but all are deftly and skilfully managed within a relatively short narrative: this would be a great fun fiction accompaniment to a Rainforest/Conservation unit looking at habitats etc.
Brilliant stuff, and very nicely written for a younger audience to engage with, too, helped by the larger print size and Nathan Reed's fun illustrations alongside.
Thanks to Louisa and Sabina at edpr for having me start the blogtour and the copy of the book to review...check out what these other fab bloggers have to say on their stops through the rest of the week:
My Mum Is A Spy written by Andy McNab and Jess French, Illustrated by Nathan Reed is published by Welbeck Children's on 18th August, priced £6.99
Review by Rich Simpson (@richreadalot on Twitter and Instagram) August 2022. All opinions my own.