A small, pixie-haired, gap-toothed, pink-skinned boy rocking a fedora aspires to competence as a spy.
Spy Guy is aware of his limitations: He’s not very subtle and actually not really clued into whatever the secret to spying might be. The otherwise unnamed little boy goes “to Headquarters to see the Chief” for answers. The Chief looks a lot like a dad. The Chief’s response? He helps Spy Guy out with some new sneakers (for sneaking) and a disguise, some advice about stealth and finally this enigmatic answer: “If you can sneak up on me…then you will know” the secret. Young readers will have noticed the large, long-legged spider in every frame, ready to inspire Spy Guy’s somewhat clever sneaking-up technique. Young’s brief, simple text blends prose and rhymed phrases: “When I try to sneak, my shoes squeak”; “if you want to be stealthy, first you must be healthy.” The problem is that there’s not much of a story here. Spy Guy learns some tricks of his eponymous trade, but that’s about it. Young readers who long for adventure might wish for more to the plot—perhaps a situation in which Spy Guy could apply his sneaky skills. Still Santoso’s art conveys broadly comical action, and his slightly retro palette and exaggerated cartoon style are well-suited to the undercover prowess Spy Guy seeks.
Will Spy Guy be the next 007? Unless there’s another book, readers will never know. (Picture book. 4-7)