Hendrix, John. “The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler.” New York: Amulet Books, 2018.
“The Faithful Spy,” which tells the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, is certainly a graphic novel, but does not rely on panels. Rather, the images sweep over an entire page and use the best of the graphic novel format and informational text. Hendrix uses only green and red for color to great effect to indicate good and evil, resulting in a page-turner that builds suspense and keeps us on the edge of our seat, even though we may know the end.
As the title indicates, this story does not shy away from the role faith and religion played in Dietrich’s life and the decisions that bring him to the plot to kill Hitler. Although he did not survive the war, his story and the story of his (sometimes surprising) co-conspirators is truly inspiring. His internal battles of ethics and morality around plotting an assassination were very real and could inspire classroom discussion around the ethics of the gray areas of life.
“The Faithful Spy” is a good introduction to the German resistance, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German military, and others who worked to defeat Hitler from inside the Nazi party. Middle and high school students will find it an accessible start, and librarians and teachers may need to use their magnifying readers to read some of the smaller print. A worthwhile addition to any secondary library.
Dewey: 230 (but could easily go in 940.53 or 920) Interest Level: Grades 6 and up
Reviews and Awards: Booklist starred, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Horn Book Magazine, Kirkus Reviews starred, New York times, Publishers Weekly, School Library Connection starred, School Library Journal starred, YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults – Nominees 2019.
Readers might also like: The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Spy, Unlikely Hero by Patricia McCormick (Gr. 5-8)
Fiction Pairing: Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Gr. 6-9)
On the Web:
Explore a few of the poems written by Bonhoeffer during his time in prison at https://www.holytrinity.net/3-prison-poems-by-dietrich-bonhoeffer/
Valkyrie (2008). Rated PG-13 for violence and some language. Bonhoeffer is not in the film, but it does dramatize the last assassination attempt described in the book.