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Spies in Disguise: Boy in Tights is the first in the Spies in Disguise series by Kate Scott.

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Kate very kindly sent me a copy of this book to review in exchange for my honest opinion of it.

Joe is an ordinary, nine year old boy, mad about football and computer games. His parents are ordinary too – or so he thinks until he gets home from school one day to find that they have turned from regular, slightly dull parents into super spies – just like that.

They explain that their cover has been blown, and they must leave their house and everything in it as soon as possible. Joe has literally minutes to come to terms with this before they bundle him out the back door and into a getaway car.

Joe’s world is turned upside down.

In order to evade their enemies, Joe’s parents must take on new identities, and so must Joe.

Knowing that their pursuers will be hunting for a couple with a son, Joe’s parents have the brainwave to turn him into a daughter…

Joe is not impressed, particularly with his dad’s choice of clothing, but knows he must help his parents or risk losing them.

Joe becomes Josephine and is sent to a new school where he has to get to grips with what it means to be a girl, and what it means to be the son of two spies who have a gadget filled secret room in their house.

The book has a great mix of humour and adventure as Joe tries to reconcile all the different parts of him with varying success.  It’s clever and silly and nicely paced so that there is plenty of action and the reader doesn’t get bored waiting for things to happen.

It is an excellent example of a chapter or transitional book, well balanced for those readers who have moved from picture books but are not yet ready for a full on novel.  The chapters are short and manageable with plenty going on in them to keep the reader engaged.  The font is clear and a good size, with good spacing between the words which means that children will be able to differentiate between words without running them together or getting bogged down by the density of the text.  There are some black and white illustrations which also help to break up the text and provide an interest point for readers.

The humour in this book and the toggling back and forth between Joe the boy and Josephine the girl, means that this book has something for both boy and girl readers and would be universally enjoyed by all readers.

I would recommend it for independent readers between the ages of six and eleven, although if you were to read it aloud to children it would be suitable for fives and up.

This is a standalone adventure, but it finishes with the promise of more, and Kate’s sequel: ‘Boy in a Tutu’ will be published in 2014.

Thanks to Kate for thinking of me as a reviewer. I really enjoyed the book, and will definitely be recommending it for the school library.

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