Island of Spies

island of spies

Step back into the world of the 1940s on Hatteras Island, North Carolina. Just how simple was life back then?

Stick Lawson, Rain and Neb are best of friends on the island and they have created their own detective agency, the Dime Novel Kids. Sounds a bit idyllic doesn't it? But this is 1942, when fathers have gone to fight in World War II, and for these kids the awareness that U-boats lurk in the waters possibly within view of their own lives gives their days the scent of danger.

These good friends are always in search of a good mystery to solve together. It's a great escape from worrying about fathers in the war, fathers who are ill, and the realities of prejudice and racism on the island. Not quite as idyllic as we might have wished.

A mystery is about to find Stick and Rain and Neb as strangers start showing up on the island. Do these strangers have anything to do with the U-boats? Could they be communicating to the subs in the waters just off their coast?

A walk back in time with three great kids who are battling their own issues and finding the courage to see the war and the danger happening in their piece of the world.

Recommended by: Barb Langridge,


From the Newbery Honor-winning author of Three Times Lucky comes a middle grade WWII spy mystery with as much humor and heart as high stakes

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.---from the publisher

384 pages                                          ‎ 978-0735231252                                              Ages 9-13

Keywords: historical fiction, spies, espionage, mystery and detective, friendship, 20th century, World War II, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old


Stick, Rain, and Neb live on Hattaras island in 1942. There's a lot of concern about German U-Boats, and there are even some torpedoes that hit too close to home, some resulting in ships being destroyed. Stick, whose father is away fighting, runs the Dime Novel kids detective agency, so she and her friends try to solve mysteries. Rain and her mother live in an oversized barrel, and Stick's mother made sure that Rain could attend the local school even though she is part Black. Neb's father is poorly. The three suspect everyone on the island of everything; the new players for the baseball team, Austrian artists who seek refuge, and even eccentric neighbor Miss Agnes, who, after all, has a radio hidden just in case the Germans invade. Stick also likes to conduct science experiments. Will the Dime Novel kids be able to keep their beloved island safe? Some good details of life in 1942, and an interesting setting.

Recommended by: Karen Yingling, Teacher Librarian, Ohio USA

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