By R. Conrad Stein. 146 pp.
Chiron Books, 2011. $7.95.
It’s August 1944, and two 12-year-olds growing up in Chicago, Tony Avellini and Dan Zelinski, might have caught sight of a German saboteur. Stoked by ever-present war stories and cautionary signs like the “someone talked!” poster featuring “a drowning sailor desperately trying to keep his head above the waves,” they decide to find out.
R. Conrad Stein, author of more than 300 books for young readers, is a pro at plot, pacing, dialog, and character, and his love of his hometown yields richly textured locations we come to know as the boys pursue their quest. Someone Talked! is a great read for ages 8 and up that doesn’t pander or talk down to kids; it engages their curiosity and intelligence. And Stein’s afterword, “The World War II Homefront,” offers a succinct but solid look at the real historical context shaping his preteen counterspies.