Marcel loves riding his bicycle, whether he’s racing through the streets of his small town in France or making bread deliveries for his parents’ bakery. He dreams of someday competing in the Tour de France, the greatest bicycle race. But ever since Germany’s occupation of France began two years ago, in 1940, the race has been canceled. Now there are soldiers everywhere, interrupting Marcel’s rides with checkpoints and questioning.
Then Marcel learns two big secrets, and he realizes there are worse things about the war than a canceled race. When he later discovers that his friend’s entire family is in imminent danger, Marcel knows he can help — but it will involve taking a risky bicycle ride to pass along covert information. And when nothing ends up going according to plan, it’s up to him to keep pedaling and think quickly… because his friend, her family, and his own future hang in the balance.
Set in France during World War II, The Bicycle Spy tells the story of a 12-year-old Marcel Christophe. Marcel is a good biker and he dreams of entering the Tour de France someday. But with the German ruling his country his dream suddenly becomes impossible. The race has been canceled indefinitely, Nazis are everywhere, soldiers are guarding every streets and they no longer feel safe in their own place. And It become more complicated when he found out that his parents are part of the Resistance and his new friend, Delphine Gilette and her family are in danger for being a Jewish. What a young boy can do against the Nazi soldiers? Can he save his friend before the Gestapo get hold of her and her family?
Marcel as the protagonist is very brave. Though his train of thought sometimes sounds too mature for his age I still find him and his situation believable. His friendships with Delphine is sweet and his relationship with his parents is endearing.
Yona Zeldis McDonugh use a simple and straightforward narrative to tell Marcel’s story. Readers of this middle grade historical fiction will surely find The Bicycle Spy to be fast-paced and suspenseful. As Marcel drive his bicycle around the streets of Aucoin, readers will mount a thrilling ride, hoping for Marcel’s safety and his secrets not to be discover by the German soldiers. Everytime Marcel stopped or confronted by Gestapo at street’s checkpoints, readers heart will slow, as there was constant danger not only for Marcel and his family but also to those who are involve in the Resistance.
Overall, The Bicycle Spy is a quick and heartwarming story of courage and friendship in time war. Yona Zeldis McDonugh successfully paints in this book a portrait of French household’s life during World War II when the Nazi soldiers occupy every streets of France.
* This review is based on a copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Scholastic Press Philippines in exchange for an honest opinion.