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Bertie and his dog stumble across a notebook in code on the streets of World War II London. Is the notebook’s owner a spy? Can Bertie and his friends crack the code before something terrible happens?  
Ages 10+
Pages 272
Publisher Penguin Random House
Coming Nov 2021

Average Rating

68 Reviews
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What the Book Is About

Bertie is a messenger in World War II London. During an air raid, he and his dog, Little Roo, stumble across a young woman who has been knocked unconscious, but when they return later to find her, she has disappeared, leaving behind only a notebook written in code. Is she a spy? Bertie and his friends, Jewish refugee David and American girl Eleanor, are determined to crack the code. Featuring real-life characters, Sherlock Holmes references, and material to help readers crack the code alongside the characters, this is a fun, engaging historical mystery.

Jewish Content & Values

  • David, Bertie’s best friend, is Jewish and came to England on a Kindertransport. David’s foster family is Jewish and he attends synagogue and celebrates Shabbat with them.
  • David talks briefly about the Nazi persecution of Jews, and there is a reference to Kristallnacht.
  • Real-life Jewish codebreaker Leo Marks is a character in the book. When the other children speculate that he could be the spy, David says that Marks is Jewish so would never support the Nazis.
  • Reference is made to the Atbash code, which gets its name from four Hebrew letters.

Positive Role Models

  • In a time of danger and spies on both sides, Bertie, David, and Eleanor trust each other and work together to find Eleanor’s missing friend Violette and to break the codes in her notebook in order to help the Allied cause.
  • Leo Marks heads the SOE (Special Operations Executive) office, which supports Resistance agents in occupied Europe.

Content Advisory

Bertie's brother is injured in a bombing raid and must have his arm amputated. Bertie blames himself, and his mother blames Bertie too. Bertie has a panic attack when he sees a bombed-out house because it brings back memories of when his own house was bombed. David left his parents behind to travel to safety in England, and the assumption is that he won't see them again. David briefly mentions the persecution of Jews, including Kristallnacht.

Talk It Over

Bertie’s brother is injured when their house is bombed, and Bertie blames himself. He volunteers to help out on the streets during air raids to make up for what happened, despite having frightening flashbacks to the bombing. If you were Bertie, would you volunteer in the way he does, or would you find another way to make up for what happened? If the latter, what would you do?
What the Book Is About

What the Book Is About

Bertie is a messenger in World War II London. During an air raid, he and his dog, Little Roo, stumble across a young woman who has been knocked unconscious, but when they return later to find her, she has disappeared, leaving behind only a notebook written in code. Is she a spy? Bertie and his friends, Jewish refugee David and American girl Eleanor, are determined to crack the code. Featuring real-life characters, Sherlock Holmes references, and material to help readers crack the code alongside the characters, this is a fun, engaging historical mystery.

Jewish Content & Values

  • David, Bertie’s best friend, is Jewish and came to England on a Kindertransport. David’s foster family is Jewish and he attends synagogue and celebrates Shabbat with them.
  • David talks briefly about the Nazi persecution of Jews, and there is a reference to Kristallnacht.
  • Real-life Jewish codebreaker Leo Marks is a character in the book. When the other children speculate that he could be the spy, David says that Marks is Jewish so would never support the Nazis.
  • Reference is made to the Atbash code, which gets its name from four Hebrew letters.

Positive Role Models

  • In a time of danger and spies on both sides, Bertie, David, and Eleanor trust each other and work together to find Eleanor’s missing friend Violette and to break the codes in her notebook in order to help the Allied cause.
  • Leo Marks heads the SOE (Special Operations Executive) office, which supports Resistance agents in occupied Europe.

Content Advisory

Bertie's brother is injured in a bombing raid and must have his arm amputated. Bertie blames himself, and his mother blames Bertie too. Bertie has a panic attack when he sees a bombed-out house because it brings back memories of when his own house was bombed. David left his parents behind to travel to safety in England, and the assumption is that he won't see them again. David briefly mentions the persecution of Jews, including Kristallnacht.

Talk It Over

Bertie’s brother is injured when their house is bombed, and Bertie blames himself. He volunteers to help out on the streets during air raids to make up for what happened, despite having frightening flashbacks to the bombing. If you were Bertie, would you volunteer in the way he does, or would you find another way to make up for what happened? If the latter, what would you do?