I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on May 6th 2014
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.
The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill threw me off at first because I didn’t realize it was going to be set back during the Cold War. Once I adjusted to the time period, I was easily swept up into Hazel’s world. As a girl, I was a huge Nancy Drew fan and found of inventing my own mysteries. Hazel takes the cake at mystery hunting as she embarks on finding out the truth about who the spies are in her town. She finds some bumps along the road as she befriends a boy named Samuel, who seems to have his own mysterious past that everyone knows about except her.
Hazel is fixated on their new gravedigger, as he is seen doing some suspicious things, like cleaning graves in an area of a graveyard where no one goes. She is intent on finding proof before she comes forward with her accusations, but finds herself in a whole lot of trouble in the meantime. I really love this book for it’s way it expresses friendship, the strength of Hazel’s character and how it shows that not everything is as it seems to be.
My only concern is I’m not sure how well it will appeal to my students at my school. There’s some references they wouldn’t quite understand, but I think the characters will make up for their lack of knowledge. I love stories told from flawed characters, Hazel having some problems with being a bit overwhelming at times and very much in the moment. I really enjoyed the story overall, but the characters really made everything about this book pop. Also, how many books do you read about a girl whose parents maintain a graveyard?
An amusing middle grade set during the Cold War and involve a multi-layered mystery. Also, may have teared up at one point towards the end of the book, so bonus points for almost making me cry.