Spy, Spy Again

Spy, Spy Again by T. Holdcroft

Holdcroft, Tina. Spy, Spy Again. Toronto: Annick Press, 2011. Print.

Picking up this book, I was struck by the familiarity of the exuberant illustration style. A modest amount of research revealed that illustrator Tina Holdcroft has been an institution in Canadian publishing for decades. Her work on children’s publications like Owl and Chickadee, not to mention numerous non-fiction books for children, has made her a part of the visual language of Canadian children’s literature since the 1980s. Holdcroft clearly derives inspiration from bringing complex non-fiction and historical information to vivid, dynamic life. Her expertise with visual narrative allows her to communicate historical events within the span of a couple of pithily worded pages. With impressive economy, Holdcroft conveys the intricacies of ancient and modern global political machinations in memorable and hilariously wry vignettes. Holdcroft’s very personable and funny narrative tone allows the reader to take in a tremendous amount of detailed information while enjoying her adeptly designed interplay of text and illustration. It is almost too easy to overlook the rigorous research and incisive cleverness amidst all the colourful goofiness.  The joviality might read as a bit flippant given the dire nature of the subject matter - bumbled attempts at spying seldom end happily - but it seems to be part of Holdcroft’s intent to emphasize the folly of human conflict and ambition.  A happy confluence of talent, expertise and personal enthusiasm Spy, Spy Again is an engaging and rewarding experience for any reader and should definitely be considered for addition to any non-fiction library for young adults.

Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Matilda Roche


Matilda spends her days lavishing attention on the University of Alberta’s metadata but children’s illustrated books, literature for young adults and graphic novels also make her heart sing. Her reviews benefit from the critical influence of a four year old daughter and a one year old son – both geniuses. Matilda’s super power is the ability to read comic books aloud.


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.20361/G2K019