Bearce’s latest installment in the Top Secret Files series introduces young readers to the Cold War.
Following the design and format of the previous titles in the series, reading this book is rather like opening a filing cabinet, reaching in, and pulling out a file. Any file will do. Skip around; every file contains something interesting: stories of the CIA operative who made an escape dressed as a dog; the Cambridge University students who became KGB spies; the 87-year-old “grey-haired granny” who became a spy. Suggested activities have readers making up secret codes, creating parachutes, making “glacier goo,” and creating UFOs. The “carrot submarine” activity even refers budding vegetable sculptors to a YouTube video if they need help. Interesting tidbits about poop-shaped transmitters, animal agents, U-2 spy planes, the space race, and even Dr. Seuss’ The Butter Battle Book add to the fun. The writing style of the longer chapters—such as “Tunnels to Freedom” and “They Built a Wall”—is direct and matter-of-fact, imparting information clearly. Most entries have lead sentences designed to pull readers in: “What do a raven, a cat, and a dolphin have in common? They were all trained as agents for the CIA.” Particularly valuable for young researchers is a lengthy guide to relevant websites.
A nifty supplement to traditional nonfiction and fiction on the period. (Nonfiction. 9-12)