The Spy with the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers, #2)
Siblings Ilse and Wolf hide a deep secret in their blood: with it, they can work magic. And the government just found out.Blackmailed into service during World War II, Ilse lends her magic to America’s newest weapon, the atom bomb, while Wolf goes behind enemy lines to sabotage Germany’s nuclear program. It’s a dangerous mission, but if Hitler were to create the bomb first, the results would be catastrophic.When Wolf’s plane is shot down, his entire mission is thrown into jeopardy. Wolf needs Ilse’s help to develop the magic that will keep him alive, but with a spy afoot in Ilse’s laboratory, the letters she sends to Wolf begin to look treasonous. Can Ilse prove her loyalty—and find a way to help her brother—before their time runs out?

The Spy with the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers, #2) Details

TitleThe Spy with the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers, #2)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 2nd, 2018
PublisherAlbert Whitman Company
ISBN-139780807529348
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Lgbt

The Spy with the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers, #2) Review

  • Amy Leigh
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this book just as much as the first in this series! They read in a way that if you read them out of order you would be okay but I don't recommend missing either book. The way the author intertwines magic and history into a ya fantasy novel is brilliant. Ilse and Wolf are siblings with a special type of magic that comes from their blood. This is World War II and they are both tricked into using their magic for the war. Wolf is a spy working on the Germans to try to keep Nazi Germ I really enjoyed this book just as much as the first in this series! They read in a way that if you read them out of order you would be okay but I don't recommend missing either book. The way the author intertwines magic and history into a ya fantasy novel is brilliant. Ilse and Wolf are siblings with a special type of magic that comes from their blood. This is World War II and they are both tricked into using their magic for the war. Wolf is a spy working on the Germans to try to keep Nazi Germany from being able to succeed with nuclear weaponry. Ilse is actually working with Americans to help further the Atom bomb along. Ilse cant bear not knowing if her brother is okay and sends him letters that he holds dear. Wolf has a flying incident and Ilse's letters are found. She has to prove she isn't a traitor in a time period of great war and distrust. ​Thank you to Edelweiss and Albert Whitman & Company for an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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  • Katherine Locke
    January 1, 1970
    UPDATE: 9/24/17IT HAS A TITLE! The Spy with the Red Balloon will arrive Fall 2018 (if everything stays on track...). Please enjoy my Queer Jewish Kids Punch Nazis While Doing Science and Sabotaging Hitler book.Previous review:To be fair, I haven't finished writing this book yet. But I wanted to leave a review in case people had questions when The Girl with the Red Balloon #1 ARCs started to appear in the new year: 1. This is not a sequel. It takes place about 45 years BEFORE the first book and h UPDATE: 9/24/17IT HAS A TITLE! The Spy with the Red Balloon will arrive Fall 2018 (if everything stays on track...). Please enjoy my Queer Jewish Kids Punch Nazis While Doing Science and Sabotaging Hitler book.Previous review:To be fair, I haven't finished writing this book yet. But I wanted to leave a review in case people had questions when The Girl with the Red Balloon #1 ARCs started to appear in the new year: 1. This is not a sequel. It takes place about 45 years BEFORE the first book and has only one overlapping secondary character. Same world, different characters.2. This is literally all I can tell you. Not because of publishing secrets but because the book isn't written yet. When I can tell you more, I will!
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  • Dahlia
    January 1, 1970
    I just can't get over how quickly and deeply I fell for these characters. As in the first book, some of the science and magic stuff went over my head, but I really didn't care. The writing is just so gorgeous, the characters so special, and the stakes so high I read this in a state of panic that was partly deserved but so well worth it.
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  • Abi (The Knights Who Say Book)
    January 1, 1970
    My feelings about this book are intense and therefore completely indescribable, so this is going to be an utterly useless review.Like, it has flaws? I definitely thought at times that the writing could just be overall better, and that it was too slow, and that it was somehow just not giving me enough even though I loved every concept in it. You know when you like a book but are at the same time completely exasperated by it? I think this book needed to give us more about Ilse's friends and how th My feelings about this book are intense and therefore completely indescribable, so this is going to be an utterly useless review.Like, it has flaws? I definitely thought at times that the writing could just be overall better, and that it was too slow, and that it was somehow just not giving me enough even though I loved every concept in it. You know when you like a book but are at the same time completely exasperated by it? I think this book needed to give us more about Ilse's friends and how their relationships grow and deepen, and on Wolf's side needed to make us understand Lily more, because to be honest I felt like she was kinda flat, despite her importance, so overall her character is just weirdly handled.But those problems weren't always problems. When there were fewer characters on screen, the relationship between Wolf and Ilsa really shone. I really liked the romance between Wolf and Max. And I've always liked Katherine Locke's version of magic as a science, even though it's kinda vague because, you know, she can't actually give us the magical equations Ilsa writes. Obviously, that would out magic to the whole world, and we can't have that.And most importantly? Most fricken importantly? QUEER JEWS PUNCHING NAZIS.I LOVE Wolf and Ilsa unapologetically going into the war exactly because they know their country isn't in it to save the Jews, but screw it, they are. They're Jewish and that grounds them. It's what puts them in danger, but it's also what inspires them. And they both discover in the process that they're definitely not straight, and even though that's also dangerous for them in this era, well, Katherine Locke is not here to let the nazis win.Science. Spies. Magic. Kissing. It's a good book, guys.
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  • Lulu (the library leopard)
    January 1, 1970
    i see you, random person who decided to give this book a one star review even though it's a sequel to a book that isn't even OUT
  • Kate Welsh
    January 1, 1970
    Spies! World War II! Math and science and magic all intertwined! Big difficult philosophical questions! Historical fiction including characters of diverse races and religions and sexualities! Complicated sibling and friendship and romantic dynamics! SO MANY THINGS I LOVE ALL TOGETHER.UPDATED 10/2: Read my blog post about the book and interview with author Katherine Locke right here!
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  • Clara
    January 1, 1970
    This exceeded all of my expectations, and then some. I'm going to be recommending this at every opportunity.
  • MsArdychan
    January 1, 1970
    Please Note: I received an advance copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.Reading The Girl With The Red Balloon last year, I was struck by how the author, Katherine Locke created both an historical novel, and an imaginative fantasy novel. Her newest book, The Spy With The Red Balloon, takes place in the same universe of magic, but with a different historical setting and characters. Once again, I am blown away Please Note: I received an advance copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.Reading The Girl With The Red Balloon last year, I was struck by how the author, Katherine Locke created both an historical novel, and an imaginative fantasy novel. Her newest book, The Spy With The Red Balloon, takes place in the same universe of magic, but with a different historical setting and characters. Once again, I am blown away by the intricate plot, suspense, and historical details. Once I started reading, I could not put it down!What I Liked:Setting/Historical Details:The book takes place during the second world war. The race is on to see who will create the first atomic bomb: The Americans, or Hitler. I loved all the details of that time that the author includes. From food shortages, and horrible beer to the institutional sexism and racism of the era, I felt these characters were definitely of that time.Characters:The book centers on Jewish siblings, Ilse and Wolf. They both have magical blood which enables them to perform enchantments. But younger sister Ilse has the added talent of being a intellectual genius. At sixteen, she is already a university student when the military calls on her (forces her) to use her magical abilities in the war effort of WWII. Wolf, being a few years older, is also pushed into magical service.I really liked Ilse. She is so young and immature to be thrown in with adults much older than she. Not only is she trying to solve an almost impossible puzzle, wrestling with the ethical implications of war, but she is also trying to navigate her attraction for another girl. Being the 1940's, this is fraught with taboos, and danger. I loved her spirit, and her conscience.Wolf also grapples with the ethics of war. He would much rather not kill anyone. But when he faces the realities of what Jews are dealing with in Europe, can he turn a blind eye to their suffering? He is also feeling conflicted about his romantic feelings toward his childhood friend, Max. Again, we are reminded that being Gay was not just frowned upon back then, but illegal.Diversity:I loved that there were not one, but several gay characters, as well as African-American characters, in this book. These were multi-faceted people who were not solely defined by one trait. Plot:The plot has many twists and turns that kept me reading well past my bedtime! Like any good mystery, there were clues and foreshadowing that the reader could glean. But, when some of the twists were revealed, it was yell-worthy (which I did do, loudly)!Suspense:The book had a sense of urgency throughout that I thought worked really well to convey how all encompassing the war was for everyone. Not only life, death, and freedom hung in the balance, but also ethics, at both a personal and national level. Are we willing to kill for our country? Are we okay with creating weapons that can kill millions? What are our responsibilities?Ending:As I looked over other reviews of the first book on Goodreads, I was not alone in feeling that The Girl With The Red Balloon ended abruptly. Not so with The Spy With The Red Balloon. The author takes time to really explain what happens to the characters. Since I was so fond of Ilse and Wolf (plus their various love interests) by the ending, I was really pleased to know how most of the characters ended up! This was so satisfying.
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  • Bekka
    January 1, 1970
    I'm ready to suffer
  • Annalee
    January 1, 1970
    This book was just as good as it's companion novel, The Girl With The Red Balloon. I loved how realistic this book was and how it made the magic seem possible. The writing style was brilliant and I can' t wait to read more by Ms. Locke. The characters were also very well written and I loved them with all of my heart. The plot was very intense and I was kept on the edge of my seat the whole book.
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  • Emme Huffman
    January 1, 1970
    This is a wonderful companion to The Girl with the Red Balloon. I love Ilse and Wolf so much. Ilse is unapologetically smart and resourceful. Wolf is very protective of the people he loves. Their relationship with each other works so well. They recognize each other's strengths and play off of that, even when they are apart. The Spy with the Red Balloon felt, at times like a prequel. I don't want to say too much so that I don't spoil anything, but it sets up a lot of what we see in The Girl with This is a wonderful companion to The Girl with the Red Balloon. I love Ilse and Wolf so much. Ilse is unapologetically smart and resourceful. Wolf is very protective of the people he loves. Their relationship with each other works so well. They recognize each other's strengths and play off of that, even when they are apart. The Spy with the Red Balloon felt, at times like a prequel. I don't want to say too much so that I don't spoil anything, but it sets up a lot of what we see in The Girl with the Red Balloon. As a companion and a prequel, it complements TGWTRB very well. --I received an eArc through Netgalley.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    This was a bit of a slow start for me, but I loved Wolfe and Ilse from page 1. As it went on, it became more and more addicting and I was desperate to get to each chapter and make sure everyone was okay. Also this was SO queer, which was wonderful.
  • Sinead (Huntress of Diverse Books)
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of The Spy with the Red Balloon from Netgalley. I had heard a lot of good things about the first book in this companion series The Girl with the Red Balloon, which I have unfortunately not had the time to read yet. They are both historical fiction novels set at the time of World War II, that have magic in it, and Jewish main characters.This book is #ownvoices for Jewish representation.Check out my book blog for more book reviews and other bookish posts!__While reading this, I k I received a copy of The Spy with the Red Balloon from Netgalley. I had heard a lot of good things about the first book in this companion series The Girl with the Red Balloon, which I have unfortunately not had the time to read yet. They are both historical fiction novels set at the time of World War II, that have magic in it, and Jewish main characters.This book is #ownvoices for Jewish representation.Check out my book blog for more book reviews and other bookish posts!__While reading this, I kept thinking, why had I not read The Girl with the Red Balloon yet!? The book was so good, and I’m definitely getting the first one. Since, I hadn’t read the first one, I can say that The Spy with the Red Balloon works as a companion novel. You understand everything without needing additional knowledge from the first book.The story shows the brutality of Nazi Germany without describing every evil in detail. It focusses a lot more on what Ilse and Wolf are doing to help and how their life continues during the war.Katherine Locke closes up the plot-hole of why not all of the victims were saved, if some people had magic, by explaining that the magic was tied to blood, and the magic users would need to have a lot more blood than they could give to save everyone.The main characters are siblings, and they had such a lovely relationship. They took care of each other, even from afar. It was lovely to find out that both of them were queer, usually books seem to think that there can only be one queer person in a group of siblings, which is just ridiculous. I do head-canon Ilse as aro-spec, and I’d be interested to see if this is the case. They are also quite different from each other, and contrary to popular gender stereotypes, Ilse is a scientist, while Wolf becomes a spy.One of the major scientist characters is a black female scientist. Through Stella’s story, the reader realises that even though Jewish and black people both experienced discrimination, the communities were affected in different ways. Stella also makes the reader aware that just because a place thinks that it is not racist, doesn’t mean that that is the reality.I especially loved how the four scientists (who were all women) became closer to each other, and started to help each other out. It’s lovely to read about friendships between women, where the women are accepted for who they are.The aroantagonistic phrase of “just friends” is used at least twice.__You should definitely get this book. It’s soooo good! I will definitely be reading The Girl with the Red Balloon soon. It was beautiful to read a book that focussed on sibling relationships and friendships between women.Trigger warnings: violence, Nazis, Holocaust, death.
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  • Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
    January 1, 1970
    You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight 4.5*Wow, this book is good. It's a companion to  The Girl with the Red Balloon , and it's absolutely just as strong as its predecessor. Which is a hard feat, because I loved its predecessor, so. The only minor qualm I had was that a few things were a bit predictable- but honestly, it didn't really dampen the impact of the story, so whatever. So let's go ahead and talk about the stuff I You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight 4.5*Wow, this book is good. It's a companion to  The Girl with the Red Balloon , and it's absolutely just as strong as its predecessor. Which is a hard feat, because I loved its predecessor, so. The only minor qualm I had was that a few things were a bit predictable- but honestly, it didn't really dampen the impact of the story, so whatever. So let's go ahead and talk about the stuff I loved! The Things That Made This Book Awesome: •The time period. Look, a book set (and done right, which this certainly is) in WWII era is probably going to pull at the heartstrings. This certainly did. •Ilse and Wolf are incredible characters. Not only were they each incredibly sympathetic and well developed, but their sibling bond was incredible. It was also really believable, which is hard to accomplish. These two didn't want to be separated, but in the end, it was really good for each of their personal growth. Of course, their bond never faltered either, so it really was the best of both worlds. •There was light in the darkest of places. Truly, it gives me hope for our world now. It's lovely to see acts of selflessness and bravery and goodness in such bleak and desperate times. •It's incredibly emotive. There is so much going on that really made me feel things. Not only is the obvious horror of the war raging on in Europe, but even in Ilse's American small town, the awfulness of racism and homophobia is everywhere. You can't help but feel angry, sad, and scared for these characters. •The tension and the stakes are, for obvious reasons, incredibly high. This book keeps the action coming, because of course it has to. There is so, so much on the line, and everyone involved knows that it is so much bigger than just themselves. It makes for a very powerful novel, to say the least. Bottom Line: Honestly, if you are even considering picking up this series (you can read them alone or together!) I implore you to do it. It's fabulously written with characters who you won't be able to forget. The messages it delivers are timeless, and so incredibly important. Do the thing.
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  • Other Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    "Get in, losers," she called out. "We're blowing up Nazis." - In a companion story to The Girl with the Red Balloon, the stakes are high as America joins the second World War. The government is tracking people with magic abilities, drafting them for the fight. Ilse and Wolf Klein are caught in the middle of practicing and are separated to do their necessary part in ensuring America’s survival. Combative Ilse is sent to lead a group in the Manhattan Project where a spy threatens to spill their se "Get in, losers," she called out. "We're blowing up Nazis." - In a companion story to The Girl with the Red Balloon, the stakes are high as America joins the second World War. The government is tracking people with magic abilities, drafting them for the fight. Ilse and Wolf Klein are caught in the middle of practicing and are separated to do their necessary part in ensuring America’s survival. Combative Ilse is sent to lead a group in the Manhattan Project where a spy threatens to spill their secrets. Wolf is trained to be a spy where he unexpectedly collides with an old friend. Both work to understand the properties of their strange blood and what uses they could have beyond killing, and Ilse and Wolf are aware of what being Jewish means in the war effort. I can describe this book in two words: Jewish catharsis. Coming from a similar background as the author and the siblings, it felt really good to see Nazis being punched by angry Jewish people. The fact that Ilse, Wolf, and the others aren’t used as tragedy porn because Locke understands the weight representation has. Privilege is explored through race, religion, sexuality, and gender, showing how these characters act in these intersections at the battleground and in the labThis is an excellent read that has made me loudly cheer at each heroic fight, the relatable Jewish-ness, and how she perfectly worked in a Mean Girls reference.I highly recommend reading this and be sure to have a copy of The Girl with the Red Balloon to enjoy the moment even more. I've received the arc from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Bethany (thelittlebookblog)
    January 1, 1970
    Oh my god. review to come but WOW
  • Carmen
    January 1, 1970
    I love this series way too much.
  • Dani
    January 1, 1970
    By far one of THE best books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It was thrilling, suspenseful, heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once. I won't lie, I was scared as hell the entire way through, but each character and each part of this book have left an imprint on my heart and I am so glad I was able to read it. I can't even imagine the research that went into this book.I don't even know what else to say. It's a book that, once it's finished, leaves you a little speechless. Thank you for By far one of THE best books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It was thrilling, suspenseful, heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once. I won't lie, I was scared as hell the entire way through, but each character and each part of this book have left an imprint on my heart and I am so glad I was able to read it. I can't even imagine the research that went into this book.I don't even know what else to say. It's a book that, once it's finished, leaves you a little speechless. Thank you for the work you put into it and for sharing it with us; it was magical.
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  • Mic
    January 1, 1970
    Katie gave me feelings.
  • Rachel Goldstein
    January 1, 1970
    I was so excited to read this book because I adored The Girl with the Red Balloon; and this prequel is rich in history, magic, troubling grey areas, and beautiful language in the same way. The unique thing that I love most about it is the sibling relationship between Wolf and Ilse--their closeness and their clashes and similarities and perceived inadequacies and deep understanding and constant sniping. It's a relationship that gets you invested right away. And as comforting and familiar as it in I was so excited to read this book because I adored The Girl with the Red Balloon; and this prequel is rich in history, magic, troubling grey areas, and beautiful language in the same way. The unique thing that I love most about it is the sibling relationship between Wolf and Ilse--their closeness and their clashes and similarities and perceived inadequacies and deep understanding and constant sniping. It's a relationship that gets you invested right away. And as comforting and familiar as it initially is, it has to evolve in difficult ways as they are separated for the first time in their lives and have to pursue their own storylines, their own relationships. Some of the ways they each change during the war are heartbreaking. And, knowing what happens in The Girl with the Red Balloon, you can see how the effects of their changing will ripple outward, and how they might make mistakes they wouldn't have before. But their relationship doesn't *weaken*, and that ends up feeling like reason for hope. Their other relationships are compelling in and of themselves, too. I'm particularly attached to Stella, the delightfully dry and practical genius who is also the lone black woman in the group of magic-users assembled around Ilse (and I appreciate that the other women's respect for and friendship with her doesn't get anyone a free pass on allyship); Lily, the MI6 operative leading Wolf's mission, who is a badass and hasn't had to have all her femininity and softer feelings stripped away to make her into one; and Max, Wolf's lifelong best friend with the potential to be something besides a friend. I would have liked for Max to be developed more, actually, as his own person; but it was nice to eventually get to see him from Ilse's POV, and be reminded that he exists outside of Wolf's perception in ways Wolf doesn't even think about.The first-person narration manages to convey the adolescence and...*siblingness* of the characters while also feeling oddly literary; I like that about Locke's style. This book definitely feels of a piece with The Girl with the Red Balloon. There are a couple deliberately anachronistic lines, but they're so damn satisfying that I can't bring myself to mind. Most of them have to do with punching Nazis.Some of the morality in the book is a bit more uneasy than Nazi-punching, which is to be expected of a story dealing with the Manhattan Project. On that front, the book is definitely aware of the moral dilemmas. It's even aware of the issues with being too black-and-white about anything--not that certain things aren't irrefutably wrong, but that rigidity and idealism can both cause problems down the line. Like Girl with the Red Balloon, though, it chooses to be less aware of certain things. Sometimes it's sticking to the constraints of the time period, as with the few mentions of Israel--the characters in the midst of the Holocaust are thinking of safety, not the horrifying situation Israel will eventually become, but the latter is always at the edges of my mind. Sometimes it just feels like something's been forgotten, as when the leader of the nascent balloonmakers says he hopes their rescue services will never be needed in America, which has in fact been rounding up its own citizens in concentration camps on the basis of ethnicity for a year by the time the book starts. These moments made me uncomfortable, but I also don't feel like I can blame the characters for having their all their focus taken up by the Holocaust.I'm also rather emotional about how this book deals with its characters' Judaism, since it's central to the Jewish characters' identities and to the setting itself but each of them has a different relationship to it, and it's only one part of some very complicated patchworks...I have trouble articulating my emotions since I'm still working on articulating my own relationship with Judaism, but I really, really appreciate that Locke's unapologetically and complexly Jewish books exist. My final note is about the queer rep--it's here, and it's lovely. Again, it varies between characters and is only part of the patchwork. The dangers of queerness during the 1940s are present, and some characters may be held back by that while others fail to really understand someone else's fear; they're all working on it, but the focus isn't on fear or tragedy but on kids figuring out their feelings and their identities. And I'm especially gratified by the asexual rep we get in Wolf. Overall: The Spy with the Red Balloon is beautiful and gripping (I read it faster than anything I've read in the last several months) and you should read it! Probably after The Girl with the Red Balloon, for the full effect of the worldbuilding.
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  • Ben Truong
    January 1, 1970
    The Spy with the Red Balloon is the second book in The Balloonmakers series and written by Katherine Locke. It is centers on sixteen year-old Ilse Klein and her older brother, Wolf Klein, two Jewish, German-American youths living in 1943. They have a closely guarded secret: there is magic in their blood – literally. When they write scientific equations with their blood – magical things can happen.When Isle Klein accidentally sets fire to a kite using her magic and it is witnessed by a government The Spy with the Red Balloon is the second book in The Balloonmakers series and written by Katherine Locke. It is centers on sixteen year-old Ilse Klein and her older brother, Wolf Klein, two Jewish, German-American youths living in 1943. They have a closely guarded secret: there is magic in their blood – literally. When they write scientific equations with their blood – magical things can happen.When Isle Klein accidentally sets fire to a kite using her magic and it is witnessed by a government agent, they are blackmailed into helping America win the Second World War. Wolf Klein is sent into Germany to spy and destroy Germany nuclear labs to slow down or halt their nuclear progression, while Ilse is sent to a top-secret engineering facility in Tennessee with three other magic-users to manifest a nuclear bomb.However, complexities arise when some important documents go missing and Ilse Klein is blamed for treason. The accusation against Ilse effect Wolf, whose Jewish identity makes him even more vulnerable – especially when he is shot down by the enemy and needs his sister's help to find an appropriate magic spell to get him out.I rather liked the fact that the four member team working on the atomic bomb project were all women. Of the four people in Ilse Klein's group, Stella, who is black, is treated differently from the rest, though she is the smartest member of the team. Locke managed to explore the similarities between Stella and Ilse Klein with their shared discrimination, but how very different they are being discriminated against. Regardless, there is a connection between them – it is a shame that it is discrimination.Ilse Klein is also surprised to find herself attracted to another teammate, Polly, and has to do work through her sexual revelation. Furthermore, the entire magical team is also forced to grapple with the ethics of using their intellectual and magical gifts in service of delivering a weapon of mass destruction. It does not help much that there is a leak in within their group and they must be weary of each other.Wolf Klein's challenges are just as daunting. He is in love with his best friend, Max, when the two end up on the same mission. He is torn between protecting Max and completing the mission goals. He and his team face decisions of life and death when it comes to the Nazi soldiers they encounter in Germany, as well as with civilian workers at the sites they are supposed to bomb.The Spy with the Red Balloon was written extremely well. Locke expertly blends historical fiction, action, suspense, and magical realism, the mad such an intricate and rich narrative. It switches between the sibling's perspectives, exploring a multitude of emotional and moral issues, including racism and LGBTQ equality. However, having teenagers – even magical and genius ones – helping with the war effort in significant world changing manner was not explored as much and such it was quite difficult to suspend the disbelief a tad.All in all, The Spy with the Red Balloon was wonderfully written. It is an enthralling story, which exposes the cruelties inflicted on minority populations under authoritarian regimes and questions the use of weapons of mass destruction, but counterbalances such pain with magic, friendship, and even love.
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  • Bree Garcia
    January 1, 1970
    There are some books that, once you finish reading them, you know for a fact that you're going to read it again. And soon. Both books in the Balloonmakers series are like that. The Girl with the Red Balloon was sweet and smart, and it made my heart ache during my reading and especially after. The Spy with the Red Balloon is no different. I thought I would be upset that Katherine Locke didn't continue the story of Ellie and Kai, but once I met Ilse and Wolf, I knew I wouldn't be upset for long.Il There are some books that, once you finish reading them, you know for a fact that you're going to read it again. And soon. Both books in the Balloonmakers series are like that. The Girl with the Red Balloon was sweet and smart, and it made my heart ache during my reading and especially after. The Spy with the Red Balloon is no different. I thought I would be upset that Katherine Locke didn't continue the story of Ellie and Kai, but once I met Ilse and Wolf, I knew I wouldn't be upset for long.Ilse is a genius, a girl who lives and breathes science and magic. Wolf, her brother, is smart, but he knows he'll never understand as much as Ilse does. He only knows that their blood can perform magical feats, and he understands that the war is closer than he thought. When the siblings are recruited for a secret mission involving Hitler and a nuclear bomb, they know that nothing will ever be the same between them. Ilse is whisked off to the picturesque hills of Tennessee while her brother is shipping off to Germany, right in the middle of the danger. The two must fight against time, racism, and a spy determined to get their way.Let's be honest: right now, we definitely need a heroine like Ilse. She's strong, brave, smart, and willing to stand up to those who try to come between her and her principles. She only wants a better world to live in, one where people can be themselves and be happy. She's idealist in that way, but she understands that this world is not kind to people like her - Jewish, queer - but she knows enough to want to change that. Then there's Wolf. Sweet, sensitive Wolf. This war hasn't only been waged against his people, but it's also torn his best friend Max from him. Once overseas, he's sure of two things: he wants to stop Hitler and he wants to make it back home so he and Max can be together.Along the way, he learns about heartbreak and betrayal, and he sees exactly what is worth fighting for. In a nutshell: these two siblings are badass.Katherine Locke writes in such a way that makes me yearn for the characters to be happy while being blindingly angry at the atrocities this world has offered innocent people. She blends reality and fantasy so seamlessly that sometimes I'm like, well, yeah, of course this is how it happened, with magic balloons. She's detailed and thorough, bringing the world alive around you. And the way she writes the characters! Ilse and Wolf are just two people on paper, but I would die for them. I want to wrap them in the softest blankets and tell them I'm sorry for what the world has done to them. I'm not usually like this with characters, but these two are adorable and have been through far too much for their young ages.
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  • JoLee
    January 1, 1970
    Featured in World War II Wednesday on Intellectual Recreation. Last year I read Katherine Locke's The Girl With the Red Balloon, and it made me really curious to learn more about the magical balloonists of the past. Well, I got my wish. In The Spy with the Red Balloon, Ms. Locke takes us back about 45 years to World War II. The story stars siblings Ilse and Wolf. They are recruited to help the war effort with their magic. Wolf is sent overseas as a spy, and Ilse become part of the Manhattan p Featured in World War II Wednesday on Intellectual Recreation. Last year I read Katherine Locke's The Girl With the Red Balloon, and it made me really curious to learn more about the magical balloonists of the past. Well, I got my wish. In The Spy with the Red Balloon, Ms. Locke takes us back about 45 years to World War II. The story stars siblings Ilse and Wolf. They are recruited to help the war effort with their magic. Wolf is sent overseas as a spy, and Ilse become part of the Manhattan project, working on a way to deliver the atomic bomb with magic. There are some really intriguing things about this book. I do enjoy a good alternate history, and I'm going to slot this one in with other great alternate World War II novels like Wolf by Wolf and Front Lines. I really like the way science and magic overlap in the Balloonist series. I also really enjoyed the sibling relationship between Wolf and Ilse. I was completely on board for the relationship between Wolf and Max. However, I thought Ilse's romance was underdeveloped and frankly unnecessary. Sometimes YA books it feels like there's a need for every character to pair up, and that can feel forced. I would have loved more of an emphasis on Ilse's female friendships. All in all this book has a fun combination of science and magic, daring rescues, lots of danger, questionable morals, LGBT romances, and familial love. Review copy from NetGalley.
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  • Chloe
    January 1, 1970
    *Spoiler free*The Spy With the Red Balloon is a companion novel to The Girl With the Red Balloon, but they can be read completely separately! I really enjoyed Girl, it had such a haunting tone to it, so I was excited to see what Spy would hold!I almost stopped reading a handful of times. It takes a bit to get acclimated with the world and the science/magic can get very confusing very fast. I kinda just disconnected from it and stopped trying to make sense of it all and that helped!After a bit, t *Spoiler free*The Spy With the Red Balloon is a companion novel to The Girl With the Red Balloon, but they can be read completely separately! I really enjoyed Girl, it had such a haunting tone to it, so I was excited to see what Spy would hold!I almost stopped reading a handful of times. It takes a bit to get acclimated with the world and the science/magic can get very confusing very fast. I kinda just disconnected from it and stopped trying to make sense of it all and that helped!After a bit, things start to pick up and the story really gets going. You have all the points to need and ZOOM! we're off. It took me awhile to get warmed up to Isle. I just had a hard time connecting with her and I only found myself really invested in her story towards the end. I didn't have that problem with Wolf. I was hooked into his POV right from the start.This book does take place during WWII and there is a lot of heavy stuff happening, but this book is just... more than that. There was plenty of queer characters and punching Nazis to go around. I loved it.One of my favorite things would have to be a plot twist. It is so masterfully done that it's such a complete shock. I loved it. You are lulled into a false sense 'oh, duh I know what this is' and then you are completely thrown off guard by what actually happens. It was brilliant.I'm not sure how I feel about Isle's romance arc. She is bi and she does have a crush on a girl and I loved it! It just felt a little rushed and I don't feel I got enough interaction between the two characters to feel completely invested in their feelings. But, there I feel like there is a story off the page happening and that is good for me.It loved seeing the connections to Girl. It was so fun seeing how this book ties into that one! They are more like Easter eggs, so if you haven't read Girl it's no big deal. You will understand everything that is going on!I thoroughly enjoyed Spy. It was so awesome to see this book twist together and to get to know these characters!
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  • Halli Gomez
    January 1, 1970
    THE SPY WITH THE RED BALLOON is the second book, but it occurs earlier than the first, a nice twist. This time we are in the 1940’s fighting World War IIKatherine Locke takes us to World War II with the Klein siblings, Ilse and Wolf. We’re fortunate to be a part of this story from different locations and points of view. These compelling stories are beautifully woven together. Cleverly created concepts of magic and science bring us into Ilse and Wolf’s world and their involuntary recruitment to t THE SPY WITH THE RED BALLOON is the second book, but it occurs earlier than the first, a nice twist. This time we are in the 1940’s fighting World War IIKatherine Locke takes us to World War II with the Klein siblings, Ilse and Wolf. We’re fortunate to be a part of this story from different locations and points of view. These compelling stories are beautifully woven together. Cleverly created concepts of magic and science bring us into Ilse and Wolf’s world and their involuntary recruitment to the war. The details of these concepts flowed so naturally in dialogue and description, I believed they were true.As the siblings join the war effort, we are introduced to new characters with wonderfully developed personalities. You love them along with Ilse and Wolf, and suffer through their struggles and heartaches as the era, the war, and societal views attempt to stand in their way.THE SPY WITH THE RED BALLOON is a beautifully written novel about magic, science, World War II, and love. This story tackles many important topics such as morality and ethics, equality, segregation, discovering new love, gay and lesbian relationships, and the sadness and bravery of war.And through it all is the bond between the siblings that gives you the courage to do anything.
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  • Jessie
    January 1, 1970
    I loved almost all of the characters here. Ilse is so young and quick and earnest. Wolf is more contained, but he feels just as strongly, just as stubborn, and more intelligent than he gives himself credit for. He loves so quickly. Both of them grow over the course of just a few months here, and I really appreciated that Ilse's journey shows that growth doesn't always look like increased certainty. Sometimes we need to be more uncertain first.I laughed because there's sibling banter and teammate I loved almost all of the characters here. Ilse is so young and quick and earnest. Wolf is more contained, but he feels just as strongly, just as stubborn, and more intelligent than he gives himself credit for. He loves so quickly. Both of them grow over the course of just a few months here, and I really appreciated that Ilse's journey shows that growth doesn't always look like increased certainty. Sometimes we need to be more uncertain first.I laughed because there's sibling banter and teammate banter, and it gives small spots of light in darkness. I cried, and it wasn't a part at which one would expect a reader to cry. One of Ilse's chapters starts with her talking about how slow, difficult, and grinding scientific progress can be but that the process is still important. And in reading that, I felt so seen because research is slow and difficult and such a fight for me right now, and a fictional, magical girl in 1943 felt the same way.Wolf is demisexual (word not used, but it's described on page). Will edit to add more on that.CW: war, nuclear weapons, gun violence, basically forced military service, anti-Semitism, concentration camps, genocide, mass killings, misogyny, racism (especially anti-Blackness), anti-queerness, interrogation, torture.
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  • Aly
    January 1, 1970
    3/5 starsHistorical fiction for me is tricky, but reading this right after a book I loved (also historical fiction) I just didn't find myself interested. I got bored A LOT, so much that I felt lile stopping at points or skimming pages. There were times where I was actually really interested, but they werw few and far between. Beginning was unbearably slow where I nearly DNFd it 70 pages in. The ending was nice and tied it to a nice bow, leaving it open for interpretation. But yeah, this definite 3/5 starsHistorical fiction for me is tricky, but reading this right after a book I loved (also historical fiction) I just didn't find myself interested. I got bored A LOT, so much that I felt lile stopping at points or skimming pages. There were times where I was actually really interested, but they werw few and far between. Beginning was unbearably slow where I nearly DNFd it 70 pages in. The ending was nice and tied it to a nice bow, leaving it open for interpretation. But yeah, this definitely wasn't for me. I couldn't care much about what happened to the characters. Even the magic aspect just felt lile ot could have been expanded on a bit more or even shown more. This is not magical realism at all, so reading this made me feel like there was so much missing. Anyways, this wasn't for me but I know many people enjoyed it. I'd pass on any others in this particular series for the time being.
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  • Jenni Frencham
    January 1, 1970
    Locke, Katherine. The Spy with the Red Balloon. Albert Whitman & Company, 2018.Ilse and Wolf can work magic with their blood, but their experiments are put on hold by the second world war. Ilse is assisting the Americans in building a bomb, while Wolf is sent behind German lines to sabotage German plans for the same type of weapon. Will they be able to keep each other alive and also maintain their secrets?This book has some great character development and world building and is a perfect book Locke, Katherine. The Spy with the Red Balloon. Albert Whitman & Company, 2018.Ilse and Wolf can work magic with their blood, but their experiments are put on hold by the second world war. Ilse is assisting the Americans in building a bomb, while Wolf is sent behind German lines to sabotage German plans for the same type of weapon. Will they be able to keep each other alive and also maintain their secrets?This book has some great character development and world building and is a perfect book for those who enjoy reading about the second world war. There are other novels about this time period and other spy novels available, but the magical realism that is added into this novel makes it unique and interesting. Recommended.Recommended for: teensRed Flags: the violence of warOverall Rating: 4/5 starsRead-Alikes: Wolf by Wolf, The Librarian of Auschwitz, Code Name VerityI received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley for the purposes of review.
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  • Luna
    January 1, 1970
    Wolf and Max were <3 <3 and worth an extra star on their own. Ilse grew on me after a few chapters. At first, I found her very analytical way of relating to things difficult to connect with, but I really admired her bravery+strength. There were a few definite "punch you in the feels" chapters with this one. I ultimately enjoyed this a lot, despite a slow start and a lot of predictable elements. More of a 3.5, but I like to round up. As with the first book, I felt the historical research / Wolf and Max were <3 <3 and worth an extra star on their own. Ilse grew on me after a few chapters. At first, I found her very analytical way of relating to things difficult to connect with, but I really admired her bravery+strength. There were a few definite "punch you in the feels" chapters with this one. I ultimately enjoyed this a lot, despite a slow start and a lot of predictable elements. More of a 3.5, but I like to round up. As with the first book, I felt the historical research / historical fiction elements were stronger than the speculative part, as the magic system wasn't well developed/explained. I think in this book, that fact is even more stark because the magic is being written in comparison to the exacting science of physics.
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  • Mariah
    January 1, 1970
    i... i... i dont even know what to say but i fucking love this book. i came across this and i was like a book? that? has? all? my? favorite? things? gays, magic, and being set in the 1940s. anyway i was worried it would let me down, after having built it up so much in my head. but hell no, that shit SLAPS. first can we just talk about how great our two protagonists were, i fell in love with both of them, and also lily, and stella and colonel mann tbh. i dont wanna go into a lot of detail because i... i... i dont even know what to say but i fucking love this book. i came across this and i was like a book? that? has? all? my? favorite? things? gays, magic, and being set in the 1940s. anyway i was worried it would let me down, after having built it up so much in my head. but hell no, that shit SLAPS. first can we just talk about how great our two protagonists were, i fell in love with both of them, and also lily, and stella and colonel mann tbh. i dont wanna go into a lot of detail because thats a lot of work but, favorite moments: "this storm. this is how i feel when i look at you", "tell your momma you got punched by a queer jew", "get in losers, we're blowing up nazis.", "theory confirmed" and also shouting "i love max egan" so basically i love this bitch thank you bye
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