Book Reviews – ‘Spies in Disguise: Boy in Tights’, Kate Scott
Boy in Tights
by Kate Scott Series: Spies in Disguise #1 Published by Piccadilly Press
on 1 July 2013 Format:
James Bond never had to wear a dress! Joe discovers his parents are spies, which is great. But Joe's parents are in danger which is not so great. And Joe has to go undercover as a girl which is definitely NOT GREAT AT ALL. Joe (now Josephine) is miserable when he starts his new school in a blond wig, dress and tights. But soon he has a spy mission of his own. Using a host of unusual gadgets, Joe investigates some suspicious goings on. But can he do so without revealing his true identity?
DYLAN, AGE 9, REVIEWS
Star rating: * * * * 4 out of 5
I always need a book in my school bag in case I get stuck while my mum stops to talk to ladies, or in case there is nothing I want to play at break or lunchtime at school. When I saw ‘Spies in Disguise: Boy in Tights’ sitting on the table it looked like a good book so it went in my bag!
I used to like books and movies about spy kids a lot, but then I started to think the spy kid idea might be a bit old – kids find out their parents are spies and not boring adults like they thought, and then they go on an adventure and save the world. But this book was different because it had a ‘Boy in Tights’. I have never seen a book with the same plot line. This is probably because boys do not like wearing tights. Boys definitely do not want to dress up as girls. So for a spy book this is original. I mean really.
I know boys don’t want to dress up as girls because one time my dad gave me my sister’s PE kit by mistake and I thought I would have to do PE in her skirt and pink trainers. Luckily the PE teacher let me wear my school shorts, but I still had to play football in pink trainers.
I felt sorry for Joe (now Josephine) when he has to go to the girls’ party in the book because I’ve seen my sister and her friends do things like that with their hair and makeup and nails and I would HATE a party like that. My mum is saying I had my nails cut when I went to the hairdresser with her but that is NOT THE SAME THING.
The beginning of the book when Joe discovers his parents are spies was a bit like other spy books, but that’s okay because I liked the gadgets. I also liked it because Joe’s parents were not perfect when they were spies. For example, the reason Joe could borrow the stuff to spy on his teacher was because his dad left the gadget shelf in such a mess.
I liked this book a lot and I will definitely read the next one because ‘Boy in a Tutu’ means Joe (Josephine) will be dancing too. I hope Kate Scott writes it fast.
Star rating: * * * * 4 out of 5
Just before I picked up Kate Scott’s ‘Spies in Disguise: Boy in Tights’, I was chatting to a friend about whether focusing on pace and ruthlessly chopping huge swathes of ‘description’ meant sacrificing ‘scene setting’, ‘character development’ or any of the other elements that make up a good book.
Personally, I am firmly pro-chopping. As a child, I always skipped the descriptive bits to get to the action and, as a regular bedtime story reader, I believe today’s kids have even less patience than I did when it comes to beautiful descriptive passages that add nothing to the story.
I love the way ‘Spies in Disguise: Boy in Tights’ races along, jumping from adventure to adventure as you rapidly turn the pages to find out what happens next. This book is all about the action, and I don’t think it loses anything as a result.
Kate Scott provides enough key details – and the right key details – to enable readers to envisage their own scene. Characters are given the space to develop in readers’ imaginations as well as on the page. The fact Joe’s dress is ‘pink’ with ‘frilly bits’ and his wig is clipped in place with an ‘enormous pink smiley-faced butterfly clip’ is all you need to grasp the horror of Joe/Josephine’s situation as his family tries to avoid detection and he’s forced to go undercover – as a girl!
I’ve been told readers only remember three things from an author’s description of a new room, so what better to describe than the gadgets? In Joe’s parents’ ‘Mission Control’ we have a motion detector alarm clock, internet dental floss with a wi-fi aerial, and bugging devices in mains adaptors. Techno-tastic! Not only do these items paint a picture of Joe’s new environment, but they also feed into the plot as Joe will later raid his parents’ gadget collection to embark on a spy mission of his own.
I would recommend this book to any child (or adult) who wants a fun, fast-paced read.
Kate Scott has made a great start to what I hope will be a long series, and I look forward to reading Joe and Sam’s future adventures.