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

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

I just wanted to record some quick thoughts on this book... 

I've been meaning to read it for a while now! The Faithful Spy won the Cybils award in the high school non-fiction category in 2018, and got loads of good buzz before and after. 

I started to read the massive biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas that came out a decade ago, but had to return it to the library and never finished. I figured The Faithful Spy would fill me in on what I had missed. 

I enjoyed reading The Faithful Spy, but I do wish I had time to read that huuuuuge biography that I had to return too soon. I liked the beginning of that one a lot -- it was full of quotes from primary sources. This one at least gave me a sketch of Bonhoeffer's life. It's very well done, with a lot of text, a lot of illustrations. It's not quite a graphic novel and not quite NOT a graphic novel. I like the way the Cybils team described the art as a mix of political cartoons and Mad Magazine. Their review is here.

Overall, The Faithful Spy left me feeling somber, and took me a little more than an evening to read. It gave me some interesting philosophy and religion concepts to think about. Recommended to those who are interested. 

The Beatryce Prophecy

The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Well, when I hear that Kate DiCamillo has written a new book, I'm interested. She has been writing amazing books for a long time. Maybe her most famous is Because of Winn-Dixie? The first book of hers that I read was The Tale of Despereaux, for which she won a Newbery Medal. 

The Beatryce Prophecy is her newest book, and it was illustrated by Sophie Blackall, who recently won two Caldecott Medals. 

The Beatryce Prophecy is beautifully written and illustrated. Much like the other novels by DiCamillo that I have read, there's quite a bit of danger and suspense! However, I wouldn't call the book fast-paced. Like its protagonists, who walk through the woods, this story takes its time. Each one of our favorite characters has a tragic backstory. 

In the medieval countryside we meet Answelica, an ill-tempered goat, and Beatryce, a girl who can't remember much but can read, which is forbidden. We meet Brother Edik, a monk who doesn't quite fit in at the monastery, and Jack Dory who lost his parents to highwaymen. As their stories begin to intertwine and weave around one another's, they become happier. 

This is a realistic fiction book marketed to 8-12 year olds -- what is called a middle grade book. It seems to me that with its meaty plot and foreshadowing, combined with the simple writing style (which doesn't skimp on big vocabulary) and beautiful illustrations, it has a lot of the qualities that are loved by kids who love graphic novels. My kids read and enjoyed it, as did I. I received an advance reading copy of the book.

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