The Bicycle Spy

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A Time of Angels Book CoverWhat the Book is About:

Twelve-year-old Marcel dreams of one day competing in the prestigious Tour de France, a grueling bicycle race across France. He idolizes famous cyclists and trains every day on his trusty blue bike. But since the Occupation began, the race has been cancelled and now German soldiers are everywhere in his small village. When he discovers, by chance, that his parents are members of the French Resistance and his new friend Delphine is really Rachel, Marcel must cycle for his country in a race far more important than the Tour de France. This short, fast-paced story will have kids on the edge of their seats, rooting for Marcel to save the day. A timeline of events surrounding this book as well as an interesting afterword about the Tour De France offer full context for both the sport and the historical setting.

Jewish Content and Values

  • This book takes place in France during WW2 and highlights the risks that the French Resistance took by protecting Jewish people during this time. 
  • Delphine and her family are Jewish and speak about their lives in the years leading up to the war. 

Positive Role Models

  • Marcel is a caring friend to Delphine, and quick-thinking and clever in escaping the soldiers. He is brave and determined to succeed in his mission.
  • Marcel’s mother and father, and all the brave Frenchmen who joined the Resistance and risked their lives to save Jewish families, are a source of positive inspiration for us all.

Content Advisory

It is clear from the book that Delphine, her family, and all the members of the Resistance are risking their lives and could be deported or even killed by the Germans. Delphine says: “I know what they do to people like me. They round us up and they lock us up. And then they kill us.”

Talk it Over

When Delphine wins the bike race, Marcel is doubly humiliated because she’s a girl. Do you think attitudes towards girls’ achievement have changed in the 70+ years since WW2? Why or why not?
More For You

Did you know that the Tour de France originated as a publicity stunt organized by L’Auto, a French sports newspaper, to boost flagging circulation resulting from public support for Captain Alfred Dreyfus? Dreyfus was a French Jew accused of treason in a famous anti-Semitic case that split the country apart. 

During WW2, Italian cycling legend (and Tour de France winner in 1938 and 1948) Gino Bartali used his bicycle frame to smuggle clandestine documents, saving the lives of hundreds of Jews. In 2013 he was named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. 

More recently, cyclist Shani Bloch was the first Israeli woman to compete in the Tour de France, finishing in 3rd place in the under-25s division in 2002.

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