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Max in the House of Spies

A Tale of World War II

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Best Seller
Hardcover
$18.99 US
5.81"W x 8.56"H x 1.01"D  
On sale Feb 27, 2024 | 336 Pages | 978-0-593-11208-3
| Grades 3-7
Reading Level: Lexile 680L | Fountas & Pinnell Y
An instant New York Times bestseller!

Max in the House of Spies is everything you could hope for in a book,” -R. J. Palacio, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wonder, White Bird, and Pony

“Espionage! Secrets! Suspense! If you’ve ever dreamed of being a spy, this book is for you.” -Alan Gratz, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Refugee and Projekt 1065


Max Bretzfeld doesn’t want to move to London.

Leaving home is hard and Max is alone for the first time in his life. But not for long. Max is surprised to discover that he’s been joined by two unexpected traveling companions, one on each shoulder, a kobold and a dybbuk named Berg and Stein.

Germany is becoming more and more dangerous for Jewish families, but Max is determined to find a way back home, and back to his parents. He has a plan to return to Berlin. It merely involves accomplishing the impossible: becoming a British spy.

The first book in a duology, Max in the House of Spies is a thought-provoking World War II story as only acclaimed storyteller Adam Gidwitz can tell it—fast-paced and hilarious, with a dash of magic and a lot of heart.
© Lauren Mancia
Bestselling author Adam Gidwitz was a teacher for eight years. He told countless stories to his students, who then demanded he write his first book, A Tale Dark & Grimm. Adam has since written two companion novels, In a Glass Grimmly and The Grimm Conclusion. He is also the author of The Inquisitor’s Tale, which won the Newbery Honor, and The Unicorn Rescue Society series. Adam still tells creepy, funny fairy tales live to kids on his podcast Grimm, Grimmer, Grimmest—and at schools around the world. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, daughter, and dog, Lucy Goosey. View titles by Adam Gidwitz
Once there was a boy who had two immortal creatures living on his shoulders.
 
This was the fourth most interesting thing about him.
 
The first most interesting thing about Max—that was his name—was that he was a genius. He could make a working radio from the junk at the bottom of a trash can, and he could usually predict what someone was going to say ten minutes be­fore they said it.
 
The second most interesting thing about Max was that, when he was eleven years old, his parents sent him away from Germany, where he was born and grew up, to England. All by himself. Even though he’d never been there, didn’t know any­one there, and barely spoke any English.
 
The third most interesting thing about Max was that, when he got to England, he fell in with spies. Real, honest-to-goodness spies. A lot of them.
 
And the fourth most interesting thing about him was that he had two immortal creatures living on his shoulders.
 
But that’s probably what you have the most questions about, so let’s start there.
 
The two immortal creatures appeared the day his parents sent him to England.
 
His family had been arguing about it for weeks. Their small Berlin apartment shook as Max had stomped from the living room to his bedroom to the kitchen and back again, shouting things like:
 
“You can’t make me go!”
 
“Everything is fine! Who cares about the stupid Nazis?! They don’t matter!”
 
“What if you need me?!”
 
And, more quietly, alone in his room, “What if I need you?
 
But no matter what Max said, his parents had refused to change their minds. His mother had held him at the train sta­tion against her soft stomach, while his small, thin father had stroked Max’s hair. They’d waved as the train pulled out, tak­ing Max and the 198 other Jewish children to Holland and the ferry. Max hadn’t waved back. He’d just stared at them and thought, How could you do this?

Educator Guide for Max in the House of Spies

Classroom-based guides appropriate for schools and colleges provide pre-reading and classroom activities, discussion questions connected to the curriculum, further reading, and resources.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

“The rise of Nazism is not usually a source of humor, but Adam Gidwitz manages to bring a droll sensibility to the topic without in any way minimizing what happened to Europe’s Jews in Max in the House of Spies, a cracking adventure story…. Readers will seethe with Max at the teasing, pine with him as he longs for home, and cheer as he trounces his adversaries to the point of being taken on by British espionage.″ —Wall Street Journal

“Absolutely everything a reader could want in a World War II spy novel.″ —School Library Journal, starred review

“Clever Max plays the long game with determination, and his agency is refreshing…. This heartfelt historical novel explores big questions of autonomy and allegiance with an admirable protagonist readers will respect and adore.” —Booklist, starred review

“Max’s training as a spy is described in riveting detail, with readers rooting for the determined boy even as we know the dangers awaiting him if he passes the test.” —The Horn Book, starred review

“Gidwitz imbues Max’s first-person voice with plentiful charm and intellect, making him an irresistible and irrepressible protagonist…. An exciting mixture of triumphs and perils, leading up to a cliffhanger ending that will have readers clamoring for the sequel.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Newbery Honor winner Adam Gidwitz uses historical events to build this inspiring and exciting tale of one boy′s determination in the face of extreme prejudice and violence.... The novel is never heavy or sorrowful; instead, Max in the House of Spies is filled with humor, hope, and tenacity.″ —Shelf Awareness, starred review

"Funny, fraught, magical… A thrilling tale, irresistible characters, and many hilarious moments sit atop a lot of dark history and ethical issues in Adam Gidwitz′s WWII tale of a radio-whiz Kindertransport kid in spy school.” –Common Sense Media, five stars

“A duology opener with a truly likable hero and clever puzzling. Max in the House of Spies—packed with sideways thinking, sociopolitical insights, and a Marmite-eating kangaroo named Kathy—delights.″ —Kirkus

About

An instant New York Times bestseller!

Max in the House of Spies is everything you could hope for in a book,” -R. J. Palacio, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wonder, White Bird, and Pony

“Espionage! Secrets! Suspense! If you’ve ever dreamed of being a spy, this book is for you.” -Alan Gratz, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Refugee and Projekt 1065


Max Bretzfeld doesn’t want to move to London.

Leaving home is hard and Max is alone for the first time in his life. But not for long. Max is surprised to discover that he’s been joined by two unexpected traveling companions, one on each shoulder, a kobold and a dybbuk named Berg and Stein.

Germany is becoming more and more dangerous for Jewish families, but Max is determined to find a way back home, and back to his parents. He has a plan to return to Berlin. It merely involves accomplishing the impossible: becoming a British spy.

The first book in a duology, Max in the House of Spies is a thought-provoking World War II story as only acclaimed storyteller Adam Gidwitz can tell it—fast-paced and hilarious, with a dash of magic and a lot of heart.

Author

© Lauren Mancia
Bestselling author Adam Gidwitz was a teacher for eight years. He told countless stories to his students, who then demanded he write his first book, A Tale Dark & Grimm. Adam has since written two companion novels, In a Glass Grimmly and The Grimm Conclusion. He is also the author of The Inquisitor’s Tale, which won the Newbery Honor, and The Unicorn Rescue Society series. Adam still tells creepy, funny fairy tales live to kids on his podcast Grimm, Grimmer, Grimmest—and at schools around the world. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, daughter, and dog, Lucy Goosey. View titles by Adam Gidwitz

Excerpt

Once there was a boy who had two immortal creatures living on his shoulders.
 
This was the fourth most interesting thing about him.
 
The first most interesting thing about Max—that was his name—was that he was a genius. He could make a working radio from the junk at the bottom of a trash can, and he could usually predict what someone was going to say ten minutes be­fore they said it.
 
The second most interesting thing about Max was that, when he was eleven years old, his parents sent him away from Germany, where he was born and grew up, to England. All by himself. Even though he’d never been there, didn’t know any­one there, and barely spoke any English.
 
The third most interesting thing about Max was that, when he got to England, he fell in with spies. Real, honest-to-goodness spies. A lot of them.
 
And the fourth most interesting thing about him was that he had two immortal creatures living on his shoulders.
 
But that’s probably what you have the most questions about, so let’s start there.
 
The two immortal creatures appeared the day his parents sent him to England.
 
His family had been arguing about it for weeks. Their small Berlin apartment shook as Max had stomped from the living room to his bedroom to the kitchen and back again, shouting things like:
 
“You can’t make me go!”
 
“Everything is fine! Who cares about the stupid Nazis?! They don’t matter!”
 
“What if you need me?!”
 
And, more quietly, alone in his room, “What if I need you?
 
But no matter what Max said, his parents had refused to change their minds. His mother had held him at the train sta­tion against her soft stomach, while his small, thin father had stroked Max’s hair. They’d waved as the train pulled out, tak­ing Max and the 198 other Jewish children to Holland and the ferry. Max hadn’t waved back. He’d just stared at them and thought, How could you do this?

Guides

Educator Guide for Max in the House of Spies

Classroom-based guides appropriate for schools and colleges provide pre-reading and classroom activities, discussion questions connected to the curriculum, further reading, and resources.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

Praise

“The rise of Nazism is not usually a source of humor, but Adam Gidwitz manages to bring a droll sensibility to the topic without in any way minimizing what happened to Europe’s Jews in Max in the House of Spies, a cracking adventure story…. Readers will seethe with Max at the teasing, pine with him as he longs for home, and cheer as he trounces his adversaries to the point of being taken on by British espionage.″ —Wall Street Journal

“Absolutely everything a reader could want in a World War II spy novel.″ —School Library Journal, starred review

“Clever Max plays the long game with determination, and his agency is refreshing…. This heartfelt historical novel explores big questions of autonomy and allegiance with an admirable protagonist readers will respect and adore.” —Booklist, starred review

“Max’s training as a spy is described in riveting detail, with readers rooting for the determined boy even as we know the dangers awaiting him if he passes the test.” —The Horn Book, starred review

“Gidwitz imbues Max’s first-person voice with plentiful charm and intellect, making him an irresistible and irrepressible protagonist…. An exciting mixture of triumphs and perils, leading up to a cliffhanger ending that will have readers clamoring for the sequel.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Newbery Honor winner Adam Gidwitz uses historical events to build this inspiring and exciting tale of one boy′s determination in the face of extreme prejudice and violence.... The novel is never heavy or sorrowful; instead, Max in the House of Spies is filled with humor, hope, and tenacity.″ —Shelf Awareness, starred review

"Funny, fraught, magical… A thrilling tale, irresistible characters, and many hilarious moments sit atop a lot of dark history and ethical issues in Adam Gidwitz′s WWII tale of a radio-whiz Kindertransport kid in spy school.” –Common Sense Media, five stars

“A duology opener with a truly likable hero and clever puzzling. Max in the House of Spies—packed with sideways thinking, sociopolitical insights, and a Marmite-eating kangaroo named Kathy—delights.″ —Kirkus

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