Review Detail

Overall rating 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0

Fascinating Look at WWII Espionage

During WWII, there were dozens and dozens of departments and units doing things that 95% of the population still has no clue about. Whether it was the art units or African-American women sorting mail, the Fly Girls, or the Candy Bombers, I am always amazed by the things I read about WWII that most of the history buffs I know aren't even aware of! Certainly, very few people know about the Twenty-Third Headquarters Special Troops, also known as the Ghost Army. Their job was to go in, with about 1,100 members, and impersonate troops of up to 50,000 soldiers or sailors. They were also instrumental in throwing off the enemy by making it look like there were tanks, encampments, and even troop transport ships when they were merely inflatable items and scores of dummies! Even better, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. was instrumental in the idea! It was sort of like a covert USO, made up of artists, sound technicians, and other special effects experts. My favorite was when they staged a naval attack to try to siphon troops away from the area where an actual attack was planned-- they had the fake ships, threw up a smoke screen, played sound effects, and sent in a few bombs! And it actually worked. Tactics like this would probably not work today, but how intriguing that they did.

Good Points
This book followed the "secret soldiers" from their inception through the many different activities in which they were involved in a very orderly fashion, and there were lots of good pictures of people, equipment, and areas. There were so many fascinating details that I wanted to share with someone: did you know that Quonset huts were called Nissen huts in the UK? That the Beach Jumpers were named that because they wanted other words to fit the acronym for be-jesus? And... Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.! (Look him up on IMDB.com-- he was quite the dashing actor)

Here's the thing: I have zero interest in WWII. None. And yet, my students love to read about it, so I have acquired enough of a background knowledge that I could, say, hold up my end of the conversation if I were on a date with a WWII buff. This book was so well-researched; where would you even get pictures of the fake tanks? Surely, there was some kind of security that would have made this difficult to sneak back home after the war.

This is an essential addition to a middle school or high school library, and will probably be my nominee for the Cybils middle grade nonfiction award for 2019.

I knew of Paul Janeczko mainly from poetry anthologies in my library that have seen years of use; Blushing: Expressions of Love in Poems and Letters (2004), Preposterous: Poems of Youth (1991), Strings: A Gathering of Family Poems (1984), and Don't Forget to Fly (1981). Dark Game (2011) and Double Cross (2017) surprised and delighted me with their spy details, and showed me another side of this author. Sadly, he passed away 21 February, just as this new book showed up on my radar. According to his obituary in Publishers Weekly, there are two more manuscripts in the hands of his editor. I always thought fond thoughts about this author when I handed his books to students; I'm sorry I never got to tell him how much easier he made my job.

Secret Soldiers is a masterpiece; pick it up for your WWII fans as a fitting tribute to a great author.

Well done, Mr. Janeczko.
Was this review helpful to you? 

Comments

 
 
Ordering 
 
Already have an account? or Create an account
 
 
 
Powered by JReviews

Latest Book Listings Added

the orphan fixed.jpg
Sometimes the ones who save us are the ones we...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Astrid the Unstoppable
Pippi Longstocking meets Heidi meets Anne Shirley in this tale...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Dreamland
In his sleep, Louie starts visiting a magical world where...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Me, Shakespeare and the Anti-Love Club
Heartbroken and spurned Kassidy starts an Anti-Love Club in response...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Last Hope (The Raging Ones, #2)
Sacrifice all you have to survive. ...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
NewBookCover.jpg
The Akakies, a peaceful, technologically advanced alien species known as...
 
0.0
 
5.0 (1)
A new, revised edition of Edward Willett’s multi-award-winning young adult...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Love at First Fight
Band Geek vs Quarterback... One humiliating photo, a stupid...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Ellie Quinn has spent most of her sixteen years behind...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
King Geek vs the Cheerleader Julia Farrow...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Gamer vs Player Some girls have a...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Long live Solaris. One bloodthirsty ruler has...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Librarian turned sorcerer. Sorcerer turned hero. Hero turned puppet. ...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
A woman awoken in air, a soldier forged by fire,...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Soldier... Sorcerer... Savior... Who is Vhalla Yarl? ...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

Science: A LEGO Adventure in the Real World
 
4.7
"Insightful, engaging, and downright fun! LEGO hits on all the learning styles in this brilliantly interactive science primer. ..."
Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World
 
4.7
"“Women and girls have been sharing things up for a long time, resisting those who would box them in.” ..."
Growing Friendships: A Kids' Guide to Making and Keeping Friends
 
4.0
"Utilizing plain language and a kid-friendly presentation, Growing Friendships examines and addresses a wide range of socially detrimental issues such..."
My Weird School Fast Facts: Space, Humans, and Farts
 
5.0
"MY WEIRD SCHOOL FAST FACTS: SPACE, HUMANS, AND FARTS makes learning more interesting and fun. Using the weird-but-true theme is..."
The Ultimate Guide to Gardening (Craft It Yourself)
 
5.0
"Don’t let the name intimidate you—this guide is as extensive as it is accessible. The book features 111 pleasingly..."
A Kid's Guide To America's First Ladies
 
4.3
"How does a First Lady train for a job that has no job description—or even a salary? A job that..."
 
4.5
"An eye-catching activity book that teaches the nuances of font topography—for the young aspiring graphic artist in your home. ..."
Heroes For My Daughter
 
3.7
"3.5 Stars A compelling concept with a lot of heart behind it. The book presents as a sort..."
Heroes for My Son
 
3.3
"True-to-life heroes--real people who've accomplished attainable yet noteworthy things. This book holds a timeless and intriguing premise. (Particularly in a..."
About Marine Mammals: A guide for Children
 
4.7
"About Marine Mammals is a beautifully illustrated and educational book, perfect for school libraries. Or if you have a curious..."
Oceans (About Habitats)
 
4.3
"About Habitats is such a beautifully illustrated and interesting book. If you have a curious child who enjoys learning about..."
100 Things to Know Before  You Grow Up
 
4.7
"100 Things to Know Before You Grow Up is yet another reason why I, as well as the children I..."
Factastic: A LEGO Adventure in the Real World (LEGO Nonfiction)
 
4.0
"An entertaining encyclopedic primer, ideal for knowledge-thirsty LEGO fans. Coming in at 175 pages, FACTASTIC is a sizeable,..."
Scholastic Book of Presidents
 
5.0
"It’s been about a month since the US Presidential Election, and Scholastic’s newest release will help you learn everything you..."
Football Superstars 2016
 
4.0
"FOOTBALL SUPERSTARS 2016 by K.C. Kelley takes an in-depth look at the star players in the NFL at the end..."
BASEBALL SUPERSTARS 2016
 
4.3
"BASEBALL SUPERSTARS 2016 by K.C. Kelley is exactly what one would expect from the title: a review of the top..."
LEGO POP-UP
 
5.0
"A masterpiece of folded paper engineering, loaded with a wealth of interesting LEGO history and facts. From its..."
 
4.3
"What an enthralling little book this is! Growing up, I didn’t read too much non-fiction because I didn’t have access..."
LEGO Knights & Castles
 
4.0
"LEGO continues its tried and true tactic of combining real world pictures and period art with their cell-shaded cartoon figures,..."
Awesome 8
 
4.5
"Awesome 8 was entertaining and education but not in an obvious way. If you have a reluctant reader, this book..."