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Spies and Planes, Friends and Foes

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TITLE: Code Name Verity

AUTHOR: Elizabeth Wein

LENGTH:  352 pages


SUMMARY: (via amazon.com) Oct. 11th, 1943—A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

BRIDGE: This book obviously lends itself to teaching about World War II. Because Wein based her story on real-life organizations and situations, students could research the different organizations and military roles discussed in the book. It would be interesting to also research and compare whether the Americans or any other country allowed women to serve the war effort in this way. Mapping the locations discussed in the book along with the timeline of the war and location of Allied and Axis forces would be a good history project.

The book could also be used in discussion of writing perspectives. Queenie’s use of third person point of view when talking about herself is interesting. It would be fun to use the book as a mentor text and have students write about something that happened to them but have them write about it in third person. As an additional writing exercise, it would be fun to have students create a journal in the way Queenie has done, based on truths but filled with misinformation, perhaps based on a shared event from school. Students could even work in groups with other students with whom they have a shared experience that they could fabricate.

READERS: This book spans all genders and interests. It is a story of friendship and adventure and intrigue and sorrow and joy. I think adults and younger readers alike would enjoy the book. While middle schoolers might not pick up on the more subtle clues throughout the book, they would still enjoy the story.

OTHER TITLES: Readers who enjoyed this book might also enjoy Foster’s War by Carolyn Reeder, The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine, or Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.
**Look for an additional post concerning Code Name Verity including an online discussion and a surprise!


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