Parents' Guide to

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler

By Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Gripping true story of devout man who tried to stop Hitler.

Book John Hendrix History 2018
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This captivating graphic novel is as suspenseful as a thriller, with complex political events and spiritual ideas imaginatively illustrated and clearly explained in kid-friendly language. For example, here's how the author explains Hitler's takeover of Austria: "In March 1938, he annexes Austria with nothing more than blustery speeches and the tactics of a schoolyard bully. The Austrian government was so terrified of war with a lunatic they gladly gave Hitler their lunch money." The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler is a great book for anyone interested in -- or studying -- World War II. And kids and teens can relate to the deep questions Bonhoeffer struggles with: Does God hear me when I pray? Are believers called to action? Do people of faith have a responsibility to stand up against evil and fight injustice?

Author-illustrator John Hendrix does an incredible job of making history exciting, maintaining the story's momentum, and balancing military, political, family, and romantic action with thought-provoking ideas about God and faith. Particularly clever are the times his illustrations veer into the metaphorical, such as picturing Hitler as a snarling wolf (his preferred nickname was the Wolf), soldiers as rats, or Bonhoeffer as a zookeeper when the text describes his doubts about his theological pursuits: "Dietrich felt like he studied God as if he were an animal in a zoo, making careful observations and measurements but always at a safe and comfortable distance." Hendrix calls our hero by his first name, which helps make him relatable as an ordinary person caught up in extraordinary circumstances. And Hendrix quotes from Bonhoeffer's own writing, as well, marking those citations with an asterisk to make clear they are Bonhoeffer's exact words. Also helpful is his use of different colors for the "good guys" (Bonhoeffer, the plotters, ordinary Germans) in a bold turquoise and the "bad guys" (Hitler and the Nazis) in blood red, which helps readers track developments and issues in the story.

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