The news is out! The Balloonmakers Book 2 is called The Spy with the Red Balloon!
The title kind of gives pieces away, and I can’t share TOO much yet, but I’m SO excited for this book. Here’s what I can share:
Is it a sequel to The Girl with the Red Balloon?
No, it’s not. I’m sorry. The end of GIRL is the end of that story. SPY takes place 45 years earlier, in 1943. It’s a companion novel. In SPY, they’re inventing the magic and discovering the boundaries of magic you see in GIRL.
Soooo…what’s it about?
The Spy with the Red Balloon is set in 1943, two years after the United States entered World War II. Ilse and Wolf Klein, two siblings, who must use all their wits and magical skill to thwart Hitler’s attempt to build an atom bomb and root out a traitor deep within the heart of the Manhattan Project. Thanks to my friend Paul Krueger who helped me come up with this logline. Go buy his most excellent book, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge.
Wait, what’s an atom bomb? What’s the Manhattan Project?
The atom bomb is another name for a nuclear weapon. The Manhattan Project was the SUPER top secret US military project during WII to build the world’s first atomic bomb. The United States successfully built the atom bomb, dropping one on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6th and another on Nagasaki, Japan on August 9th. It’s debatable whether these bombs actually contributed to the end of World War II, but they undeniably triggered what was called the Cold War and the arms race, where other countries raced to build their own nuclear weapons arsenal.
What else can you tell me?
I’m not keeping this a secret–there are enough secrets out there and it’s not a plot reveal–so I can tell you that both Ilse and Wolf fall under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella. They don’t have the labels we use now, but they’re queer on the page. Ilse is bisexual and Wolf is, like me, demisexual. They both have on the page relationships with someone of the same gender.
Additionally, Ilse is a young physicist and girls doing STEM is a core part of this book. Another core part of this book is a queer Jewish boy punching Nazis. Girls doing STEM and queer Jews punching Nazis is my aesthetic. I hope it’s yours too.
I teach. Is there violence/sex/drugs/cursing on the page?
SPY is about war. So there’s violence on the page, and I think it’s important not to brush over the violence of war (especially for today’s teenagers, who have never known the United States not at war). There is no sex on the page. There is no cursing on the page. And a few characters smoke (as is historically accurate), but no other drug use is on the page.
Is there time travel?
Is everyone Jewish?
Ilse and Wolf are both Jewish. The other characters are a mixed bag in terms of faith and identity.
Okay but what happened at the end of The Girl with the Red Balloon?
Good question! 😉
Is this the last Balloonmakers book?
I’m not going to say never ever ever. But right now, yes, this is a duology and this is the second book.
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