Review of the Unauthorized Harry Potter and the
Art of Spying Young Agent’s Edition
by Luna Lovegood (Scamander)
Owner and Publisher of The Quibbler
(reprinted with permission from The Quibbler)
I have been most pleased to ask to write a review of the new Harry Potter activity book and introduction to spying by our good friends Lynn Boughey and Peter Earnest.
As we all know, their first book—aimed at the older kids, ages 9 to 99—was a big hit and received many awards, including the national award of First Place from the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) in 2015 in the category of Young Adult. (They also won a national award as a reference book.)
The original “adult” version was popular with all ages 10 and above, though probably most popular with high schoolers, precocious middle schoolers, and adults that still have a bit of whimsy left in their nogglesnifts.
Indeed, the Boughey-Earnest original Harry Potter spy book consistently ranked either first or second in sales at the International Spy Museum, a very popular museum in Washington DC that receives over 600,000 Muggles each year. (They refuse to disclose the numbers on the witches and wizards who visit and go through this most popular DC attraction-or even admit that they hold numerous conferences and events for witches and wizards throughout the year!)
The first version walked us through Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, detailing not only what happened, chapter by chapter, but providing a wonderful review of all the spycraft employed by Harry Potter and his friends (which of course includes me), which reference to real-world information and details about the Muggle spy world you cannot get anywhere else.
Boughey, a Muggle spy novelist, and Earnest, a renowned wizard in his own right, certainly have the knowledge and experience to write these two amazingly interesting books. Boughey is a true scholar, indeed, a Truman Scholar (Congressional scholarship) . . . and Peter spent 36 years in the CIA and the last twelve or so as the Founding Executive Director of the International Spy Museum.
I can tell you the original book is entirely accurate and a blast (not a like an Erumpent horn, hopefully) to read, and as I did in my previous review of the original book, I highly recommend it for wizards, witches, and Muggles of all ages above nine or so.
Luckily, I need not so limit Boughey and Earnest’s new Young Agent’s Edition by age. It is fine for all ages that are ready to do a word search, break a code, figure out a maze, or delve into the world of Harry Potter and the spycraft used throughout Harry’s famous struggle against Voldemort.
The book also goes into some very funny spy stuff directed at others, such as that terrible witch Dolores Umbridge (can you say Niffler?), or Hagrid’s inability to keep a secret (bless ‘im).
Anyway, the Young Agent’s Edition provides a lovely and shorter review of spycraft lessons contained in the “adult” version and describes quite well how spycraft was used by all of us (such as the members of Dumbledore’s Army) throughout our time at Hogwarts.
In addition to the text itself that provides an superb introduction to the art of spying (hence the title), the new book has dozens upon dozens of fun activities for children of all ages who love reminiscing about Potter lore: 5 mazes, 7 break the codes, 12 matching, 2 chronologies, 14 fill in the blanks, 2 crosswords, and 1 word placement.
Following the motif employed in their prior book, the authors provide a shorter but excellent glossary that lists all the essential spy terms, with examples from the chronicles of Harry Potter by the esteemed Potter expert J. K. Rowling (known as Jo by her friends).
Speaking of Jo, I also enjoyed the five fill-in-the-blank activity pages on historian J. K. Rowling: her background, where she got her many ideas, and how she became the chronicler of Harry Potter and his six years at Hogwarts and his final year taking the steps necessary to defeat the Man-Who-Can-Now-Be-Named.
One last point must be made: One of the most pleasant aspects of this new book is the illustrations by Kevin Connor of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Although he claims to be a Muggle, I have it on good authority that he is NOT a No-Mag (as they call Muggles in the States).
Be that as it may, his 30 plus illustrations really make the book. His first drawing is especially fun, showing us such luminaries as Snape (greasy hair and all), Mundungus (he should get out of prison any day now!), a young Ginny Weasley with Tom Riddle’s Diary in hand.
Although perfectly designed for middle-schoolers (3rd through 6th Years), I as a supposed adult found doing the puzzles and activities a wonderful diversion from tending to my magazine The Quibbler and Rolf’s creatures.
I fully recommend Harry Potter and the Art of Spying Young Agent’s Edition, for kids and adults who can still remember being a kid (or at least the Potter books!).
Harry Potter and the Art of Spying Young Agent’s Edition
Lynn Boughey and Peter Earnest
Illustrations by Kevin Cannon
Wise Ink Creative Publishing: Minneapolis, MN (2017)