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Kate and the Spies

This sixth historical fiction book in the "Sisters in Time" series by Joann A. Grote is published by Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Kate and the Spies is written for kids ages 9 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Plot Summary

Eleven-year-old Kate and her 13-year-old cousin, Colin, witness the Boston Tea Party. Kate's parents are Loyalists, while Colin's are Patriots. After the Boston Harbor closes, the people of Boston go through difficult times, and Kate and Colin choose to help the Patriot cause by carrying messages and spying on Loyalists. Conflict arises between the two families but Kate and Colin manage to remain friends. Colin even apprentices for Kate's father. As they watch the events unfold that eventually lead to the Revolutionary War, the children realize how important life is and resolve to learn as much as they can in order to save the lives of others.

Christian Beliefs

Both families portrayed in this book have strong, Christian beliefs in spite of their political differences. They pray for peace and God's wisdom, and they trust God to help them in the middle of their circumstances. Later, when Dr. Milton learns that Uncle Jack and Harry are going to be arrested for treason, he warns them and offers his help. Dr. Milton and Uncle Jack have not spoken to each other in six months because of their strong disagreements on political issues. Dr. Milton is willing to swallow his pride. Uncle Jack knows he can't accept his brother-in-law's help without putting him in danger, but he appreciates the offer. They ask each other for forgiveness and pray for peace for their country, for King George and for the Patriots. They know that both sides need God's help. As the war begins, Kate, asks God to show her His will for her life. She wants to be useful in God's eyes.

Authority Roles

Dr. Milton and Uncle Jack are godly role models. They strongly believe in their own views but also try to show the children how to live honest, moral, godly lives. They both try to do what is right in every situation. Dr. Milton also exemplifies compassion when he realizes Jack and Harry are in trouble. He swallows his pride and offers his help. He and Jack have not spoken in six months but both are willing to put aside their own ideas and pray together for God's will and peace. Dr. Milton is a good role model as a doctor. He does not care who is hurt or whether they agree with him on political issues. He helps their bodies heal. Lieutenant Rand, on the other hand, is a negative role model. He acts as though he is better than those around him. He is demeaning and suspicious when he talks to Kate and Colin on the common. He accuses them of trying to steal his horse, even though they are merely looking at it. He treats them like the enemy. When he is quartered at Uncle Jack's home, he insults the family by asking for items he knows they do not have. Later, when he is in Dr. Milton's library, he orders Colin and Kate around as if they are his personal slaves. He does not see them as real people.

Other Belief Systems


Profanity/Graphic Violence






Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • Why is Kate torn between the two opposing sides? Have you ever felt like Kate?
  • How does Kate eventually clarify her stand? Have you ever had to determine what you believe? How did you do this? What was the result? What does God's Word say about doubt?
  • What are the colonists willing to do to secure their freedom? Have you ever faced a situation where you had to stand up for something? How can you tell when a cause is worth fighting for? What does John 16:13 say about guidance from the Holy Spirit?
  • How does Kate's world change as a result of her experiences? How does she resolve to let God use her according to His will? Are you willing to allow God to use you in any way that He sees fit, or do you have plans for your life that you do not want God to mess up? Which do you think is the better attitude? What are some areas in your life that you need to submit to God? What are some ways in which you can do this?

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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