A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Spy Camp, the sequel to Spy School, is a mystery about a summer camp that trains teens to be future spies and is full of the sustained peril and weapons-obsessed mayhem typical of the spy genre. In this series, the violence is more cartoonish than realistic and often plays for humor. A character dies in an explosion, but it's not graphic, and there's no bloodshed. The book also has a few instances of stealing to aid a character, for which there are no consequences. There's no swearing but frequent name-calling typical of teens, such as "wuss," "dork," and "whack-job."
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What's the story?
In this high-octane sequel to Spy School, Ben Ripley is off to summer camp to endure hands-on wilderness survival training from the best the CIA has to offer -- or so he thinks. Soon, international evil organization SPYDER is hot on his trail again, this time, ready to make good on the threats they never quite pulled off in the previous installment. Does Ben harbor secret talents he's never managed to tap into, or is he still just classic spy-bait?
Is it any good?
As a sequel, Spy Camp ups the ante in terms of action sequences and thrilling moments. It's written near-cinematically in terms of pacing and visual thrills, so it's no surprise that author Stuart Gibbs has also written for film and television.
Kids who loved Spy School will find Ben more confident as he travels deeper into the labyrinth of the covert operations underworld here, but the familiar nods to history, nerdy endeavors, and dorky humor will still entertain. Parents can appreciate that this sequel continues to set a high bar for marrying the guilty pleasure of blockbuster spy movies with an affection for big words, history, and an admiration for experience and wisdom, and also gets gender parity right.
Talk to your kids about ...
Familes can talk about depictions of spies in television or films vs. how they're portrayed in Spy Camp. How are they similar? How are they different?
Critical thinking comes in handy in escaping many dangerous situations in Spy Camp. When has critical thinking helped in your life? What was the outcome?
Ben Ripley wonders if he has secret skills he doesn't know about. Have you ever discovered a secret talent you didn't know you had? What was it? How did you discover it?
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