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4-6th Grade Book Discussion: City Spies w/ Raincloud Activity

City Spies by James Ponti is a juvenile fiction book for 4-6th graders.

Sara Martinez is a hacker who is currently facing juvenile detention for hacking into the foster care system to report her negligent foster parents. Instead of being sent to “juvi,” Sara is instead recruited by Mother, a British spy who wants her to work for him and a secret MI6 division, City Spies.

The City Spies are a group of five kids, working out of Scotland, who each bring something special to the team.

Can Sara adapt to this new undercover life in time to stop a threat to Paris’ international youth summit or will she buckle under the pressure?

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is this book about? What are the main themes?

  2. In the opening, we meet twelve-year-old Sarah, who is a hacker. When talking to her public offender about her crime, he tells her, “‘It doesn’t matter what you were trying to do. All that matters is what you did.’” Do you agree with this statement? Does knowing what inspired Sara’s actions make a difference, even if she ultimately broke the law?

  3. When Sara arrives in Scotland, she learns that each of the kids takes a new name. How is Sara able to reinvent herself with her new name: “Brooklyn.” What benefits might there be from having a new name? What would your code name be?

  4. After meeting Olivia in Sydney, Australia where she’s about to be expelled from school, Olivia tells Mother, “‘You don’t have to be part of a group to understand that they’re being mistreated. Justice doesn’t require a membership card. Just a sense of right and wrong.’” Do you agree with this statement? Can you think of some creative ways you can fight for what you believe to be right? (guide)

  5. What character in City Spies do you relate to the most? Why?

  6. What are “Motherisms?” Can you think of any examples from the book?

  7. What does it take to be a spy? What characteristics make a good spy?

  8. We learn that Mother has stumbled across each of the kids in the City Spies while looking for his wife and children. What happened to them and how has this affected Mother?

  9. Meteorology plays a big part in this book. What is meteorology and what part does it play in the book?

  10. What would you change about this book? This is the first book in a series, where do you think the story is going?

STEM Activity: DIY Rainclouds


  • Glass cup or container

  • Shaving Cream

  • Water

  • Food coloring

  • Pipet

  • Two smaller containers

Directions: 1. Pour water into your two smaller cups and add different color food coloring to each cup. Put to the side. 2. Pour water into your large class container, leaving about two inches of room at the top. 3. Carefully, shake and add your shaving cream to the top of your container. Shaving cream should float on top of the water and look like a little cloud. 4. With a pipet, take your color water and squeeze onto the shaving cream. What happens?


Pretend that the water below your shaving cream is your “air” and the shaving cream is your “cloud.” As clouds gets saturated with water, or get to heavy, the drops of color water fall through as rain. When water droplets grow heavy in the sky, gravity pulls them down from the clouds as rain.


Saturation - the condition of being filled, soaked, or unable to absorb further.

Gravity - the force by which all objects in the universe are attracted to each other. On Earth, objects fall to the ground because of gravity's pull.

Absorb - to take in or soak up.

Water Cycle - the process by which water on the earth evaporates, then condenses in the atmosphere, and then returns to earth in the form of precipitation.


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