The Spy with the Red Balloon

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More About This Title The Spy with the Red Balloon


Siblings Ilse and Wolf hide a deep secret in their blood: with it, they can work magic. And the government just found out.

Blackmailed into service during World War II, Ilse lends her magic to America’s newest weapon, the atom bomb, while Wolf goes behind enemy lines to sabotage Germany’s nuclear program. It’s a dangerous mission, but if Hitler were to create the bomb first, the results would be catastrophic.

When Wolf’s plane is shot down, his entire mission is thrown into jeopardy. Wolf needs Ilse’s help to develop the magic that will keep him alive, but with a spy afoot in Ilse’s laboratory, the letters she sends to Wolf begin to look treasonous. Can Ilse prove her loyalty—and find a way to help her brother—before their time runs out?


Katherine Locke lives in a very small town outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with her feline overlords. In addition to fiction, she writes about books and reading and has contributed to The Forward, The GayYA, Teen Librarian Toolbox, and other sites. The Girl with the Red Balloon was her YA debut.


“An absorbing blend of historical fiction, mystery, and magical realism.” —Kirkus Reviews on The Girl with the Red Balloon"One of the most memorable reads of 2017.” —Paste Magazine on The Girl with the Red Balloon“This sophisticated, unusual work is likely to appeal to fans of World War II and Holocaust fiction, as well as those who like their history with a tinge of romance and magic.” —School Library Journal on The Girl with the Red Balloon“Locke’s is an enthralling story. It exposes the cruelties inflicted on minority populations under authoritarian regimes, but counterbalances such pain with magic, friendship, and even a little romance.” —Foreword Reviews on The Girl with the Red Balloon"Ilse is a complicated, fascinating protagonist, and her scientific mind will draw in teens... it has broad appeal for alt-history and urban fantasy readers." —Booklist