A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Focus is on fun, but Spy School lovingly tweaks many spy story clichés. It also celebrates intelligence as a way to solve problems.
Kids can work together to accomplish impressive feats of skullduggery. Being intelligent and quick-witted is rewarding for its own sake.
Positive Role Models
Ben is a likable main character, unsure of himself but willing to assist his classmates when they're in a bind. He's brave when he needs to be. Erica gets things done; she does a good job of putting up with Ben's bumbling. Together they are a formidable team.
Ben is White, but supporting cast is fairly diverse, with a mix of skin tones. Ben's best friend, Mike, is Black. No characters ever bring up subject of race.
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Violence & Scariness
Cartoonish slapstick involving slippery food, electrified doorknobs. paint balls, and a flame thrower. No one ever gets badly hurt.
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Mildly crude occasional commentary -- e.g., "that sucks."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Spy School: The Graphic Novel is the first comics version of the popular Spy School series by Stuart Gibbs. Ben Ripley finds himself recruited for a super-secret CIA training school, where the students learn spycraft and participate in clandestine missions. Action and jokes are plentiful as Ben tries to both stay alive and fit in. Violence is mostly limited to paint ball assaults and food fights. The young hero has a crush on an older female operative.
Is It Any Good?
As long as there are James Bond films, there wil be send-ups of them, and this goofy version hits the funny bone with a sure aim. Spy School: The Graphic Novel by Stuart Gibbs and Anjan Sarkar keeps the action lively, serving up ridiculous (in a good way) plot twists and action sequences. Like a PG-rated Austin Powers prequel, it skewers the clichés of spydom by giving them a middle school twist. The result is funny and suspenseful, the vibrant and kinetic artwork well matched to the subject. Young fans can look forward to further volumes in this engaging comics series.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.