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|Catch you later, traitor|
It's 1951, and twelve-year-old Pete Collison is a regular kid in Brooklyn, New York, who loves Sam Spade detective books and radio crime dramas. But when an FBI agent shows up at Pete's doorstep, accusing Pete's father of being a Communist, Pete is caught in a real-life mystery. Could there really be Commies in Pete's family?
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.00
Points: 8.0 Quiz: 171964
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 3.20
Points: 14.0 Quiz: 65447
School Library Journal (+) (00/03/15)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (05/15)
The Hornbook (00/03/15)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 02/01/2015 Avi’s latest is a well-weighted look at how global political tensions can tear apart workaday citizens. Pete, 12, is your average red-blooded kid in 1951: obsessed with baseball and lurid crime magazines. But one day his teacher insinuates that Pete’s father is a Communist, and almost overnight, his friends reject him, best-pal Kat isn’t allowed to speak to him, and an FBI agent begins bugging Pete to be an informer. In a rich thematic twist, Pete succumbs to Cold War paranoia until he begins to suspect his own family. Is his dad a Red? And who else? Avi bobs through a Sputnik-paced plot, alternating Pete’s wide-eyed first-person prose with italicized descriptions in the hard-boiled voice of Pete’s imaginary-detective alter ego. Each clue and subsequent interrogations come so quickly that they can be numbing, occasionally rubbing the characterizations a bit thin. But it’s an involving, twisty mystery, grounded by the palpable emotional threat of Pete’s father being taken away. An accomplished historical mystery by one of kid lit’s most reliable craftspeople. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 03/01/2015 Gr 4–6—Pete Collison's dad is a commie sympathizer: that's the accusation Pete's teacher makes in front of his entire seventh grade class. It's 1951 Brooklyn, during the height of the Red Scare, so Pete is instantly shunned at school, his best friend avoids him, and the only person who wants to talk to him is an FBI agent. Unsure of whom to trust, Pete decides to emulate his detective hero Sam Spade. He will investigate his father's past—could his dad really be a communist?—and find out who reported his family to the FBI. Avi, a master of historical fiction, vividly recreates not only the neighborhoods and pop culture of period Brooklyn, but the runaway paranoia that dominated daily life in the early years of the Cold War. With each clue Pete uncovers, the tension picks up, engaging readers in solving the dual mystery of his father's past and identifying his accuser whose name is kept a well-concealed surprise until the last moment. In clever digressions, detective Pete mentally rewrites mundane observations with hard-boiled hyperbole. He describes the sunlight in his bedroom: "It didn't promise much and left early." Strong supporting characters add subtle but important details about a period in American history that may not be fully studied in classrooms. Insightful readers will pick up on warnings about the abuse of government power. VERDICT As a mystery, historical fiction, and love letter to 1950s Brooklyn, this novel succeeds on every level.—Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 05/01/2015 Pete Collison’s seventh-grade teacher has turned the entire class against Pete by accusing Pete’s dad of being a communist. Pete begins to believe there may be something to the accusation when he’s tailed by an FBI agent who tries to bully the boy into spilling information about his family. At first Pete attempts to solve the mystery by himself, à la the fictional gumshoes he idolizes, but the pressure forces him to confront his father, who confides a far more complex personal history than Pete ever suspected and keeps a couple of family secrets locked away to the very end. As the mystery unspools, it proves to be less about Dad’s past communist affiliation, which he admits, and more about the source of the information leaks to the FBI. When friends peel off and Pete becomes increasingly isolated, he also becomes more willing to take risks to resolve the family crisis, even though suspects are uncomfortably close to home. Avi introduces themes that haven’t yet found their way into many children’s novels about the McCarthyite 1950s-the plight of one-time idealists who had long since abandoned their hopes for communism, and of those who had sought work abroad, even in the Soviet Union, during the Great Depression. This may well evoke speculation over which youthful enthusiasms of today could become the adult burdens of tomorrow. EB - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.