Hazel Kaplansky is a firm believer in the pursuit of of knowledge and truth — and she also happens to love a good mystery. When suspicions begin to 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 gravedigger. Plus she’s found the perfect sleuthing partner in Samuel Butler, the new boy in school with a few secrets of his own. As Hazel and Samuel piece together clues from the past and present, the truth suddenly is 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.
Researching The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill: A narrative of the research process, along with selected sources.
Reviews and Honors:
Maine Literary Awards: Young People’s Literature Book Award Winner 2015
“The year might be 1953, but in Megan Frazer Blakemore’s ‘The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill,’ Hazel Kaplansky has to put up with the same baloney that many a contemporary fifth grader faces. … [The novel] is as much a painting of small-town life during the McCarthy era as it is a tribute to the great girl detectives of children’s literature.” – Chelsey Philpot in the New York Times Sunday Book Review
“Hazel’s inquisitiveness, independence and imperfections are a winning combination.” – Kirkus Reviews
“There’s lots to talk about here, subjects both public and personal, making this a great choice for book clubs or class discussion.” – Ilene Cooper, Booklist
“Rich in period details, strong on family/friendship dynamics, with a cast of well-drawn secondary characters … the book demonstrates how easy it is to get caught up in an atmosphere of fear and suspicion. A light-handed yet thoughtful presentation of a difficult time in U.S. history, Blakemore’s story inspires reflection and discussion.” – Publishers Weekly
“In Megan Frazer Blakemore’s The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill, the sense of the times is seamlessly portrayed.” – Notes from The Horn Book
“Hazel is a wonderfully memorable character, larger-than-life, and so certain of her well-intentioned, but often misguided, ways. Blakemore perfectly captures that fine line between childhood and early adolescence, when tall tales from large imaginations are quickly formed, friendships with boys are still easy, and a young girl sees her place in the world as an unstoppable force.” – School Library Journal
“This is a genuine and often funny portrait of a girl who may be brighter than most of her peers but still has trouble finding perspective on Cold War politics.” – Christian Science Monitor (“25 of the Best New Middle Grade Novels”)
“[The Cold War era is] not a setting that’s used much in middle grade fiction, and Blakemore does an excellent job of showing readers what life was like at that time and what the witch hunts were.” – Patricia Kramer, Examiner.com