Former Spy Mac Barnett on Snapchat, Crumpets, and His Explosive New Memoir

Most people know Mac Barnett as an acclaimed children’s book author responsible for titles like Triangle and The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse. But his forthcoming memoir for young readers, Mac B. Kid Spy: Mac Undercover, divulges that he’s much more than that. The explosive revelation at the book’s center—that Barnett spied for the Queen of England as a child—is sure to set the literary world alight when the book is published this fall. We’re lucky enough to welcome Mr. Barnett to the shop on his memoir’s release date, September 11. In the meantime, slake your curiosity by reading our revealing Q&A with the international-superspy-turned-author below.

(*Ed. note: Portions of the following conversation have been redacted by official government agencies. We're working with our legal team to declassify the material.)

Blue Willow Bookshop: Mac Barnett, welcome back to the blog. This is your first autobiographical work. What made you decide to tell your story? 

Mac Barnett: This book is full of top secret spy stuff: disguises, hand-to-hand combat, art heists, etc., etc.. When I was a kid, I was involved in a lot of high-stakes international intrigue. My stories were only recently declassified. Until now, I wasn’t allowed to tell them. 

BWB: The book has been hailed as “Funny as a crumpet. (But truly, secretly a hundred times smarter.)" As a former spy for England, you may be qualified to answer this question: How smart, exactly, is a crumpet?

MB: Well, and I probably shouldn’t be telling you this but at the height of the Cold War, MI6, Britain’s spy agency, embarked on secret project: embedding microchips in the nooks and crannies of crumpets. The scheme was wildly successful. The crumpets were brilliant. In fact, in 1973, a crumpet beat chess master Boris Spassky in only seven moves. So “a hundred times smarter than a crumpet?” That’s a really nice thing to say about a book.

BWB: Portions of your memoir have been redacted, we presume by top secret government forces. Were you prepared for that kind of censorship?

MB: I figured it would happen. When you’re a spy, the good parts of your story are always redacted, and this book has lots of good parts.

BWB: If not for your heroic efforts, the Mona Lisa may have been lost forever and the Crown Jewels would be spoonless. How gratifying is it for the public to finally learn of your role in saving these precious artifacts? 

MB: That’s very kind, but I’m not here to toot my own horn. (Mac B., Kid Spy #2:The Impossible Crime, comes out in December!!!)

BWB: What can readers expect in volume two?

MB: King cobras, mini golf, a brief history of Restoration England. 

BWB: You’ve obviously worked closely with the Queen of England. Do you two still keep in touch?

MB: We Snapchat.

BWB: ████████████████████████ ?

MB: When I was in ████████████████, I won twenty bucks by █████████████ a ████████████ for almost twelve hours. 

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Mac Undercover (Mac B., Kid Spy #1) By Mac Barnett, Mike Lowery (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Mac Barnett, Mike Lowery (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781338143591
Availability: Usually Ships in 4-7 Days
Published: Orchard Books - September 11th, 2018

A thrilling, hilarious fully-illustrated spy adventure series, from the esteemed New York Times bestselling and multi-award-winning author Mac Barnett!

A New York Times bestsellerAn Amazon Best Book of 2018Before Mac Barnett was an author, he was a kid.And while he was a kid, he was a spy.Not just any spy.But a spy...for the Queen of England.James Bond meet

The Impossible Crime (Mac B., Kid Spy #2) By Mac Barnett, Mike Lowery (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Mac Barnett, Mike Lowery (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781338143683
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Orchard Books - December 26th, 2018

Mac B. is back... and this time, a new enemy is after the Crown Jewels! Will Mac solve this locked-room mystery in time?

An instant New York Times bestseller!The Crown Jewels are in danger... again! When the jewels go missing from inside a locked room, Mac's spy skills are put to the test. How did the thief break in? Where did the jewels go?

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