The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 6
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (May 6, 2014)
Genre: Historical fiction/mystery
Source: From publisher for review
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars
About the Book:
Hazel Kaplansky is a firm believer in the pursuit of knowledge and truth—and she also happens to love a good mystery. When suspicions swirl that a Russian spy has infiltrated her small town of Maple Hill, Vermont, amidst the fervor of Cold War era McCarthyism, Hazel knows it’s up to her to find a suspect… starting with Mr. Jones, the quietly suspicious grave digger. Plus she’s found a perfect sleuthing partner in Samuel Butler, the new boy in school with a few secrets of his own. But as Hazel and Samuel piece together clues from the past and present, the truth is suddenly not what they expected, and what they find reveals more about themselves and the people of their cozy little town than they could ever have imagined.
About the Author:
Megan Frazer Blakemore grew up in New Hampshire, and from there moved on to California, New York, Northern Ireland, the Ivory Coast, and Boston before settling in Maine with her husband and children. She attended Columbia University where she studied literature and writing. After a brief stint in the television industry, she decided to become a librarian.
This book was cute, but not what I was hoping for. The setting of a graveyard during the Cold War was fantastic. Hazel was a fun and entertaining protagonist that I loved reading about. Samuel is another great character and is very different from Hazel. They have to learn to accept each other and forgive each other as the occasion requires.
With great characters and a great setting, I expected more from the story, but it didn’t measure up to my expectations. The mystery wasn’t so much a mystery as it was speculation. It wasn’t nearly as exciting or danger filled as I hoped for. It was more about Hazel and Samuel and them learning about friendship, gossip, and growing up. I think I would have liked the book more if my expectations had been different. As it was, I was expecting a mystery with a scary bad guy and instead got a book about friendship and small town rumors.
While I had hoped for a bigger mystery and higher stakes, it is still a good book. There aren’t many books set in this time period, which makes this story unique in a way. This would be a fun read for middle grade kids that enjoy mild mysteries with interesting characters. If your child likes thrilling reads that will get their heart pounding, try a different book.
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Cover: The cover is gorgeous. I love the illustration, and it makes the book look very mysterious.