Review by Booklist Review
History gets a makeover in the new Choose Your Own Adventure Spies series, which plunks readers into exciting scenarios based on real events, and lets them call the shots. In this volume, readers assume the identity of James Armistead Lafayette just as a fire breaks out on the Virginia plantation where he is enslaved. His heroics save many lives and attract the attention of General Lafayette, who asks James to join the Revolutionary Army, promising him his freedom in exchange. At this point, the reader takes control of the narrative, making decisions that can lead to James' freedom, recapture, death, or position as a spy for the Revolution (his actual fate). Second-person narration further immerses the reader in the action, as do the illustrations and imaginative details, such as the general's fondness for squirrels. This book will get kids excited about history, but it's imperative that they read the end note on James Armistead Lafayette's life to learn what choices he actually made. A time-line history of slavery in the U.S. concludes.--Julia Smith Copyright 2019 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In this history-inspired spin-off from the venerable Choose Your Own Adventure line, readers adopt the persona of James Armistead Lafayette, an enslaved person who becomes a spy during the American Revolution. As typical for the CYOA brand, the plot offers numerous branching points where any one of multiple choices can drastically alter the course of the story and lead to happy endings or dire consequences. Depending on their decisions, readers might meet Gen. George Washington and aid the Revolutionary Army, seek freedom elsewhere, or suffer horrible fates-such as being killed in the line of duty, eaten by wolves, or, in a more fanciful narrative, granted glimpses of the future. With so many different plotlines and endings, the details of Lafayette's actual career are difficult to discern, though a short, appended biography fills in historical facts, as does as a timeline of slavery and emancipation in the U.S. The plots are swift and snappy, and the format, a tried-and-true gimmick that has persisted for decades, lends itself well to multiple rereads and interactivity, if not to a clear historical record. Ages 8-12. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Readers get a taste of life as a black spy helping the colonists fight the British in 1780s Virginia.James Armistead Lafayette, a real-life figure, was born into slavery and was recruited to join the colonist army, in which he served as a spy. This slim Choose Your Own Adventure volume lets readers ponder decisions Lafayette might have faced as they navigate his world and alter his trajectory. Early decisions include whether or not to enlist in the Revolutionary Army and how to react when white soldiers taunt "you." Later decisions involve when and how to infiltrate the British army and whether to help a runaway slave. Black-and-white full-page drawings are interspersed throughout the book. Despite the story's historical basis and high stakes, the narrative is little different from others of its type: fast-paced and simplistic, neither delving into nuance nor effectively conveying what is at stake with each decision. At times things move so quickly that facts are disorienting (for example, Lafayette's wife and children are mentioned in the opening pages and never again), and the multiple endings are abrupt. The feeling of life in the Colonies is basic and may disappoint readers seeking immersion in the setting, but none of this is surprising given the limitations of the format. For all its flaws, bringing the life of an enslaved person within reach for modern young readers is a feat.For fans of Choose Your Own Adventure books, this historical drama is worth having on the shelf. (Historical fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.