ISLAND OF SPIES, by Sheila Turnage, Dial Books, Sept. 20, 2022, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 9-12)
Three friends find themselves at the heart of a World War II spy mystery in Sheila Turnage’s Island of Spies.
Twelve-year-old Stick Lawson lives on Hatteras Island, North Carolina, where life moves steady as the tides, and mysteries abound as long as you look really hard for them. Stick and her friends Rain and Neb are good at looking hard. They call themselves the Dime Novel Kids. And the only thing Stick wants more than a paying case for them to solve is the respect that comes with it.
But on Hatteras, the tides are changing. World War II looms, curious newcomers have appeared on the small island, and in the waters off its shores, a wartime menace lurks that will upend Stick’s life and those of everyone she loves. The Dimes are about to face more mysteries than they ever could have wished for, and risk more than they ever could have imagined. —Synopsis provided by Dial Books
Island of Spies is a bit slow out of the gates, but it’s worth sticking with it. Author Sheila Turnage’s pacing could be tighter for her intended audience, though slower bits do allow for reflection.
At the center of the story is Stick, a bright scientist-in-the-making who doesn’t always get things right, but learns along the way. Rain and Neb excel and their own talents, rounding out the Dime Novel Kids crew. It’s a strong trio of characters that will appeal to young readers.
Set against the backdrop of WWII, readers will be fascinated by communication of the time — radio, newspapers and letters were the name of the game back then. Island of Spies offers a unique comparison of how we piece together information now and then. More interesting still is the overall island lifestyle of the 1940s.
Island of Spies is full of mysteries and quirky characters. It’s a fairly strong historical fiction read that’s worth checking out from the library.
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