The Apple Spy

By Terry Deary and James De La Rue

Shortlisted in Primary category 2016

1. Coby: This book is set in Scotland in 1940 during World War II.  The main characters Marie and Michael, are practically saved by the ideas from the fairy tale “Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs”.  The story starts off when both Jamie and Marie get sent home while their teacher is reading Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs to the class.  “She always picked on me.  Jamie made trouble but I was punished.  He liked that.  Brothers!”. That was a quote from Marie commenting on how life worked out at school after being sent to the corner.  This is the first sign in the book of how cheeky Jamie was and the unrest between the siblings. After Jamie screaming out “an apple a day doesn’t keep the doctor away” when Snow White dropped to the floor, after taking a bite out of the poisoned apple, they both got sent home early.

But home is where they didn’t go.  They raced to the train station and Jamie tried to trick the station master into thinking his library tickets was a train ticket.  That’s when the spies came along.  A man and a woman enter the scene with accents.  At the bottom of their trousers they had sea salt.  Jamie saw this and told the police who questioned them.  Whilst these two culprits were being taken away by the police Marie saw what looked like another spy get on the train and followed him.  They say twins have a special bond and Jamie sensed this and turned back to see her mount the train. It was a race for Jamie to get on too but he eventually did and in the meantime Marie had gone straight to the compartment where the spy was sitting. They talked and talked and became very friendly and Marie seemed to have forgotten all about the spy and this is when the spy made his move by giving Marie a poisoned apple. Marie was fighting with her mind as to whether to take it or not and of course, she did.  As the apple was about to make contact with Marie’s lips, Jamie barged into the compartment just in time to knock it clean out of her hands. “It’s poisoned and I don’t have seven dwarfs to bring you back to life!” were the exact words Jamie exclaimed whilst dragging her away from the situation.  This is the action of the story and it materialises that the children have caught three spies in one day. They had risked their lives for their country and became instant heroes.


Marie clearly struggles with her relationship with Jamie and she thinks she is treated unfairly as mentioned in the quote above. The question is does this translate into the rest of her life?  Does he always get the best presents or treats that Marie doesn’t receive?  Another quote at the end of the book suggests this “Jamie you are a genius.” This is what the detective said after Jamie saved Marie from the apple. “I scowled ‘no, he just listens to fairy tales like Snow White’ Jamie smirked like the happy dwarf, I just felt grumpy.”

Jamie is an interesting character and I think the most strongly developed character in the book.  You can see he is a cheeky boy right from the beginning of the book when shouting out in class and trying to trick the station master.  He is also a very clever boy shown to us by the fact that he caught two spies from hardly any clues.


I thought the author used strong complex sentences such as “the wind dragged at him and pulled him backwards, his grip slipping off the rail.”  I really enjoyed the element of surprise used in this book for example when they caught the first two spies you were led to believe the story was over.  But no – then they catch another one, and there is a whole other story to unravel.


I find that the character with the most personality is Jamie but the story is told from Marie’s point of view.  For me, this doesn’t work.  I think to improve this book you would need to write this from the most interesting characters point of view which is Jamie.  Another point is that it lacks short sentences and therefore when trying to build up tension the author doesn’t quite succeed.  It needs some quick sharp lines to do so.


I would rate this book 3.5/5 because it is an interesting book but I would not choose to read it if given a choice.  I find it very peculiar how they linked Snow White to the spies but I have to admit this idea did work.  This appealed to me as I thought this was a very unique plot and one that I hadn’t come across before.  This is why I rated it 3.5 however, I still would not recommend it highly to another reader.  I am an avid reader but this book just failed to grab me.

2. David: I think that this book is really interesting because it tells you historical things about what happened in World War II. This book relates to a fairy tale some of you may know called Snow White and the seven dwarves. The main characters are a young school girl called Marie Bruce and her brother Jamie Bruce, 3 spies, the Stationmaster and the Train Guard.

At the beginning of the story Jamie and Marie were sent home for interrupting their story time at school but instead of going home Jamie decided to disobey and ran down the hill towards the train station to watch the Express Train. I enjoyed the part were the spies were uncovered by Jamie, and his sister just managed to get the Policeman and Home Guard in time to stop them boarding the train and they were arrested.

I thought that there was some suspense and excitement when Marie spotted the third spy and jumped on the train just as it was pulling out of the station to follow the spy, and her brother only just caught the train as well when he realised that she had boarded the train.

I think this book is suitable for children aged 8-13 years old.  My grandparents grew up during the Second World War and this book is good because it shows me what life was like when they were young.

3. Joshua: I liked this book. The best part was on the train because it was really exciting. I think that it was probably a true story because I can imagine that there were spies on the trains. It made me interested in the history of that time. I really enjoyed it because I am interested in World War 2.

I would recommend it to anyone.

4. Millie: The book I read was The Apple Spy, written by Terry Deary. It is set in World War 2.

The plot was a children’s adventure once Marie and her brother were sent home from school. They were convinced they had found a German spy.

It gave a picture of how easy train travel seemed to be during war time. It had humour with an undertone of danger.

I especially enjoyed that it was written in a funny way. The author used food references but I’m not sure why. It was nice that it mentioned actual places. I could follow the twin’s journey and find out that Port Gordon station closed in 1968. That is ten years after my Grandma was born, who lived in Priesthill in Scotland.

5. Oscar: The Apple Spy is about two kids living in World War II called Jamie and Marie. As in the Great War, there were spies so Marie and Jamie had to catch some spies.

They were at school and their teacher, Mrs McLennan was reading Snow White to the class. Jamie and Marie heard the end of the story and it saved their life. Marie interrupts the story and gets sent out by Mrs McLennan with her brother. They go to the train station and find some spies. I liked it when Jamie and Marie find the two spies in the train station and arrest them because kids were doing it, not adults, although adults did help catch them. My favourite part was when Jamie stops Marie from eating a poisoned apple as it was very heroic.

This story is a very interesting one as it told me a lot about Nazi spies and how they were spies. It is also a very good history book. I would recommend this book for 8 year olds (mostly because I am 8) as at their age they probably learn about it in school. (As I also learnt about it in year 3, when I was 8)

6. Ryan. I enjoyed this book because it was interesting and exciting. I liked it when the spies took action in the book. The history in this book was very accurate and it gave me a real idea of what life during World War Two was like. This book particularly made me want to find out more about this part of history as I found it extremely interesting. It made me think that life as a spy would be exciting. The author inspired me to read more of his books because it was easy to read but also a fantastic story.

7. Michael. I enjoyed the book because the author, Terry Deary, used lots of interesting and exciting vocabulary. It also has lots of fantastic punctuation which we have been learning about in school. My favourite character was the spy because he disguised himself really well like when he pretended to be father of a child. The book made me want to read more history books as I found World War Two really interesting. The story was very believable because of the way the scenes were set and I have also read before about how you can put poison in apples. There were parts of it that I found tricky to understand as I didn’t know what some of the history was, so it was a bit confusing in places. Overall, I thought it was very good.

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