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  • Writer's pictureSuzie Olsen

STEM Product Review: Code Breaker, Spy Hunter (Book) Plus #Giveaway!

Hi STEM Sparkers! It's my birthday soon, and all I want for my birthday was a COVID19 vaccine. And guess what? My birthday wish came true! I got my first Pfizer shot recently. Now I don't have to panic every time I go inside the store or visit a park or other outdoor public space; I just kept waiting for COVID19 to use my autoimmune body as some kind of proving ground (and I'm sorry for this autoimmune patient who COVID19 did use as a proving ground). I hope if you can and want to get the COVID19 vaccine that you get yours soon too! That's my second wish for my birthday, that all of my readers get their shot.

I'm also excited to be able to raffle of another Women of NASA Lego set (Rafflecopter below) to celebrate Women's History Month and my birthday, but first a review of the awesome STEM book Code Breaker, Spy Hunter: How Elizebeth Friedman Changed the Course of Two World Wars by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by Brooke Smart.

Will your kids like it and/or will you hate it?

Code Breaker, Spy Hunter: How Elizebeth Friedman Changed the Course of Two World Wars is a picture book biography about Elizebeth Friedman. Friedman was a brilliant American code breaker who smashed Nazi spy rings, took down gangsters, and created the CIA's first cryptology unit. Her story came to light when her secret papers were finally declassified in 2015 (omg that is so long! and glad I can share a small part of what I do with my family; she wasn't ever allowed to tell her family). Friedman's code breaking work undoubtedly saved thousands of lives during both WWI and WWII-- she was definitely an amazing STEM figure!

How the book is written will be easy for children (usually ages 4-8 for picture books, but plus or minus a few years I say) to understand code breaking and how Friedman's work helped create the new science field of cryptology. I also like that there's a code at the back for kids to break, and the illustrations are beautiful, but also the color tone really helps set the time and mood of the book. Jack seemed to enjoy the book while I read it out loud, so I will summarize, yes I think kids and their adults will enjoy Code Breaker, Spy Hunter.

How long will it keep them entertained?

I mean it didn't take me too long to read this out loud to Jack, ten minutes or so, but his attention only waned a few times. I definitely think it's a book that children who love biographies will return to, but for children who only feel so-so about biographies, it might be a check out only once from the library situation.

Are they a good value?

Currently the book is only in hardback version right now, which is $18.99 (US) on Amazon right now. That is a typical hardback picture book price. I recommend that you at least go ask your local library to get the books and then check it out-- it's one way to support the author without purchasing the book if you're not sure your kid will like it.

Ninja-like STEM Skills

Yes is the obvious answer. It's super cool that there is back matter explaining cryptology and code breaking, and then having a code that children (and I supposed adults) can try and break. And the STEM elements (cryptology/code breaking/patterns/math/etc) are elegantly woven into the story.

Final thoughts are that this book is perfect for Women's History Month or really any time of year. I definitely recommend checking this book out from your local library, or if you feel inclined to do so, purchase it from your favorite book retailer! Because Laurie Wallmark gets another 5 out 5 stars from us for Code Breaker, Spy Hunter: How Elizebeth Friedman Changed the Course of Two World Wars!

Alright, on to the raffle giveaway! Remember it's the Women of NASA Lego set! The giveaway is open to all US residents (meaning I just send a US address to ship too), and you use the Rafflecopter below for entries (or link to Rafflecopter here). I promise that soon I'll have an international raffle, but this one is for US only. Happy STEM-ing and my birthday everyone!

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Apr 01, 2021

My oldest granddaughter loves everything to do with STEM. She would enjoy reading this book.


Mar 30, 2021

Team Aries birthday twins! Love LEGO and women in STEM!


Kristen Bott Nordstrom
Kristen Bott Nordstrom
Mar 29, 2021

Wow, I love this book (but who isn't a Laurie Wallmark fan?)! I'm sharing this AWESOME book with my students and with the other STEAM teachers ASAP! Thanks for the STEAM author profile! Happy birthday too.


Mar 27, 2021

My son's birthday was 3/21! Happy Birthday to your son! I absolutely love Legos!! Thanks so much for offering this awesome giveaway!!


Mar 27, 2021

Girls in STEM rule!!! 😊

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