Thursday, March 12, 2015

Catch You Later, Traitor

22859570Avi. Catch You Later, Traitor
March 10th 2015 by Algonquin Young Readers
ARC from Baker and Taylor

Pete lives in Brooklyn in 1951. He loves the Dodgers, Sam Spade, and detective novels. His older brother is rather mean to him, and determined to go to a rocket camp. Pete's father teaches history at a local college, so when Pete's teacher in school accuses Pete and his father of being Communists, Pete doesn't understand. It's bad enough that the other kids make fun of him because of this and won't let him join in their activities, but Pete's best friend, Kat, is forbidden to hang out with him and is eventually sent away to a girls; boarding school. Pete doesn't believe his father was really a communist, but after the local FBI agent shows up on his doorstep and asks him to spy on his own family, it turns out that there is a huge family mystery tied to the Great Depression, and several members of Pete's closest relatives have secrets in their past.
Strengths: Lots of details about this period in history bring the Red Scare to life. It's a topic not often covered. Details about extended family, school, the neighborhood, and baseball are nice additions to an interesting mystery.
Weaknesses: A few details will be confusing to students, who don't have background knowledge of a time 60 years in the past. My mother had to fill ink wells during her first few years of teaching, so I understand about ink wells on desks, but most students will be confused. There were a few other details that Avi knows well because he lived them, but which students may not understand.
What I really think: Not the best book ever about the Red Scare, but serviceable, and a lot better than many of Avi's recent books. Will buy.

22546665Whitby, Adele. Kay's Story, 1934 (Secrets of the Manor #6)
January 20th 2015 by Simon Spotlight

I really liked this series (The first book is Beth's Story), and I've had a decent following with my girls who want quick reads. A little mystery, a little history, family drama, close cousins/sisters, AND  fabulous necklaces... good stuff. I was glad to see that the series was over after six books, and I don't know that I will investigate the next books about...ah, man. Set in Paris. About Camille and Claire. Argh! Now I want to read these, too! Have to see if I can justify purchasing!

21494045Baker, Matthew. If You Find This
17 March 2015, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Always need more mysteries and books with adventure and magical realism, but this had too many depressing things-- Nicholas is socially, awkward and bullied; he talks to the tree where his parents buried his brother, who was born prematurely and died; his parents are having financial difficulties and have to see the house where the tree is; his grandfather, whom he has been told is dead, is released after almost 30 years in prison but is having mental difficulties and needs to go into a nursing home, although he keeps talking about "family heirlooms" that need to be found. Add to this rather annoying quirks in the way Nicholas tells the story (he likes to put musical notation to describe how loud sounds are, and is obsessed by prime numbers, among other things) and the fact that very little excitement occurs, and I just felt like this didn't live up to the blurb:
From Nicholas is a math and music genius with no friends and a huge problem: His father has lost his job, and they'll have to sell their house, which holds the only memory Nicholas has of his younger brother. Just in time, Nicholas's senile grandfather arrives, filled with tales of priceless treasure he has hidden somewhere in town--but where?
With the help of misfit classmates, two grandfathers, a ghosthouse, hidden messages, séances, and an uncanny mind for numbers, Nicholas stages a nursing home breakout, tangles with high schoolers in smugglers' tunnels, and gets swept up in a duel with the biggest bullies in the neighborhood. Will it be enough to find the treasure and save his house?

1 comment:

  1. I liked Catch You Later, Traitor too, but I didn't love every aspect of it. Your other books sound interesting, but it's too bad If You Find This was so depressing!