A Spy Called James

The True Story of James Lafayette, Revolutionary War Double Agent

  • Interest Level: Grade 2 - Grade 5   ·  
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

Told for the first time in picture book form is the true story of James Lafayette—a slave who spied for George Washington’s army during the American Revolution. But while America celebrated its newfound freedom, James returned to slavery. His service hadn’t qualified him for the release he’d been hoping for. For James the fight wasn’t over; he’d already helped his country gain its freedom, now it was time to win his own.

Format Your Price
Interest Level Grade 2 - Grade 5
Reading Level Grade 2
Genre Nonfiction, Picture Books
Category 5 Kinds of Nonfiction, 5KN: Narrative Nonfiction, Diversity, Social Studies
Copyright 2016
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Books ®
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2016-11-01
Reading Counts! Level 6.3
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS JNF018010, JNF007020, JNF025190
Dewey 973.3'85092
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9.25 x 11
Lexile 940
ATOS Reading Level 5.2
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 183334
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Afterword, Author/Illustrator biography, Awards, Bibliography/further reading, Original artwork, Reviewed, and Starred Reviews


  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2017
  • Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books, Winner, 2016


School Library Journal

“Rockwell’s detailed yet accessible text is perfectly matched with Cooper’s exceptional oil paintings. . . . A profoundly successful work.”—starred, School Library Journal


“With a compelling story and appealing artwork, this inviting foray into American history will catch the attention of many readers.”—Booklist

Publishers Weekly

“[Rockwell] delivers a striking portrait of James Lafayette, an African-American spy critical to the outcome of the Revolutionary War. [Cooper’s] illustrations affirm his skill as a gifted portrait artist.”—Publishers Weekly

Author: Anne Rockwell

Anne Rockwell is the author of Hey, Charleston!:The True Story of the Jenkins Orphanage Band, which was a Junior Library Guild Selection. She lives in Stamford, Connecticut.

Illustrator: Floyd Cooper

Floyd Cooper is a Coretta Scott King Award winner and the illustrator of Ruth and the Green Book. Floyd received a degree in fine arts from the University of Oklahoma. He lives in Easton, Pennsylvania.