Secret Agent Y.O.U.: The Official Guide to Secret Codes, Disguises.


64 pages
Contains Index
ISBN 978-1-897066-69-4
DDC j327.12





Illustrations by Dave Whamond
Reviewed by Anne Hutchings

Anne Hutchings is a public-school teacher and librarian in Ajax,


Young Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys/007 wannabes will find hours of fun and enjoyment within the covers of this comprehensive guide to becoming a highly trained Y.O.U.—Young Operative Undercover!


Chapters 1 and 2, entitled “Do You Have What it Takes?” and “Training Mission Y.O.U.” test candidates’ ability to follow directions, level of physical fitness, co-ordination, agility, and personality, the results of which will determine their suitability to become secret agents.


Subsequent chapters deal with disguises (from simple disguises involving everyday things such as hats, sunglasses, and body padding to more elaborate ones such as adopting a totally different persona and interacting with others only as that person would), surveillance, and secret codes and ciphers (from simple substitution codes to more complicated date shift and transposition codes).


The final chapter teaches the young operatives ways of communicating the information they have gleaned to other members of their spy network. Secret handshakes, passwords, hidden messages, and signals are just some of the recommended techniques.


Colourful, profusely illustrated with cartoon-like characters, both male and female, and using a variety of fonts and type sizes, the book is packed with demonstrations, experiments, and puzzles to challenge young readers. Directions are clear and easy to follow, accompanied by labelled diagrams. Recipes for fake blood, wart material, and makeup for bruises remind would-be spies to clean up after themselves. After all, real spies leave no trace. Coloured sidebars contain factual background information. Each chapter includes an amusingly titled section, “For your spies only,” containing fascinating trivia about such things as U2 spy planes, ninjas, and Navajo code talkers in the Second World War. Canadian content is provided with a reference to the spy training Camp X.


The book is indexed and answers to the puzzles thoughtfully provided. A note found on the verso assures parents that all activities have been tested and are safe when conducted as directed. Highly recommended.


Becker, Helaine., “Secret Agent Y.O.U.: The Official Guide to Secret Codes, Disguises.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 22, 2024,