Today I’m shining the Author Spotlight on fellow Mixed-Up Files member Jennifer Swanson and her middle grade book SPIES, LIES, AND DISGUISE: THE DARING TRICKS AND DEEDS THAT WON WWII.
Title: Spies, Lies, and Disguise: The Daring Tricks and Deeds that Won WWII
Genre: Middle-grade nonfiction history
Age Range: 9- 11 years and up
Launch Date: Out Now!
Please tell us a little bit about your book.
In the late 1930s, times were desperate. The world found itself at war again, less than twenty years after the first World War had ended. No one could quite believe it. And no one wanted it. The leaders of every country involved were left with no choice. They had to try to end the war as fast as possible, using whatever means they could.
That meant coming up with secret operations meant to deceive, deflect, and confuse their enemies. Poison the cattle that the Germans eat? Deliberately float a corpse dressed up as a spy across the water to have it wash up on Germany’s shore? Create a unit of top secret commandos with a license to kill? These were all real tactics attempted with the ultimate goal of defeating Hitler. In this off-center look at history, readers will be captivated by the classified and covert efforts made by each side as they tried to gain the upper hand and win the war. Restricted access is lifted to give the reader a peek into the top secret operations of the daring men and women who fought the war under a cloak of secrecy.
Spies, Lies, and Disguise has been getting some great reviews:
“The highly readable and well-organized text is accompanied by occasional breakout panels and spreads and focuses mainly on missions conducted by the Allied powers. While each chapter is organized around a different type of spycraft or specific mission, the accounts are more or less chronologically arranged and touch on major events such as D-Day and the dropping of the atomic bombs, adding context that will help readers newer to the subject. The text is accompanied by a combination of period photographs and illustrations by O’Malley, whose expressive style adds to the book’s cheekiness. VERDICT A must-read for budding military historians and spies-in-training. Purchase wherever books by Alan Gratz and thrillers like Framed! by James Ponti are popular.”
– School Library Journal
“This book will capture your attention from the very beginning!” ―School Library Connection
“Black and white photos, O’Malley’s cartoon-style recruitment posters and illustrations, and a narrative tone free of textbook stuffiness combine to create broad appeal.” ―BCCB
What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?
I wrote a book for an educational publisher a few years back that was very short, but I did a massive amount of research for it. Way more than I used in the book. I was SO fascinated with the military ops and secret missions that were executed in WWII (most likely my interest also came from the fact that I attended the U.S. Naval Academy and took classes in military strategy). When I found the format for the book, wham- it all came together very quickly. This structure just seemed the best way to convey excitement and intrigue to my readers.
Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?
My writing process is different for every book. For this one, I spent hours devouring books on WW2, researching the Imperial War Museum’s archive files, and doing tons of photo research. I typically research as a I write, because that is most efficient for me. The writing part of this book came very easily, which was awesome. I really had tons of fun writing this book!
We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?
One of the big reasons why I love STEM/STEAM so much is because of my 7th grade science teacher, Mrs. Roth. She just made Science FUN! I woke up every morning excited to go to her class to learn. At the time (in the early 80s) is wasn’t that common to have a female science teacher – especially not in a very small town. She showed me that women could do science and do it WELL! I have carried that love of science my whole life.
What makes your book a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?
I think this book is a great resource for teachers in the classroom because it talks about the military strategy that was used during World War II. The book gives young readers a glimpse into the innovative and secretive actions that each side took in an attempt to win the war. It highlights many true heroes of the war, and brings attention to some of the lesser-known missions that truly worked! The narrative is reader-friendly for the age group and invites the reader to read more about these amazing accomplishments.
I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?
We have two dogs that I adore. They are Lily and Sasha. Sasha is a Great Pyrenees, which means basically, she is a giant polar bear of a dog. She is white, fluffy, and weighs 120lbs. Lily is a beautiful, lovable golden retriever. She is “small” weighing in at only 70lbs. We are big dog people in this house and love our fur-babies dearly.
Science Rocks! And so, do Jennifer Swanson’s books. She is the award-winning author of over 35 nonfiction books for children. Jennifer’s passion for science resonates in in all her books, but especially her Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact, which received a Florida Book Award, a Eureka California Reading Association Gold Award and an NSTA BEST STEM book award. Her newest book, Save the Crash-test Dummies, received a starred review with Booklist and a Eureka Silver Award. Jennifer has presented at multiple SCBWI conferences, National NSTA conferences, the Highlights Foundation, the World Science Festival and the Atlanta Science Festival. You can find Jennifer through her website www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com or on Twitter or Instagram @JenSwanBooks