Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Bookstorm: Catch You Later, Traitor

Catch You Later Traitor Bookstorm

In this Bookstorm™:

Catch You Later, TraitorCatch You Later, Traitor

writ­ten by Avi
Algo­nquin Books for Young Read­ers, 2015

The ear­ly 1950s in the Unit­ed States was a time when sol­diers and med­ical per­son­nel had returned home from the two the­aters of World War II, Com­mu­nism was talked about as some­thing to be feared, and col­leagues and neigh­bors were asked to tes­ti­fy against peo­ple who were sus­pect­ed to be Com­mu­nists in Amer­i­ca. The nation was caught up in reports from the House Un-Amer­i­can Activ­i­ties Com­mit­tee and Sen­a­tor Joseph McCarthy. The Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tions was con­cerned about cit­i­zens who were dis­loy­al to Amer­i­ca. The air was heavy with sus­pi­cion and peo­ple were encour­aged to fear intel­lec­tu­als, immi­grants, and Hol­ly­wood.

It was a time when base­ball soared. The Brook­lyn Dodgers, the New York Giants, and the New York Yan­kees were the most famous teams of the day. Radio was the pri­ma­ry source for news and enter­tain­ment. Tele­vi­sions weren’t yet a part of every house­hold. 

In Avi’s nov­el, 12-year-old Pete Col­li­son is a reg­u­lar kid who loves Sam Spade detec­tive books and radio crime dra­mas, but when an FBI agent shows up at Pete’s doorstep accus­ing his father of being a Com­mu­nist, Pete finds him­self caught in a real-life mys­tery. Could there real­ly be Com­mies in Pete’s fam­i­ly? This look at what it felt like to be an aver­age fam­i­ly caught in the wide net of the Red Scare has pow­er­ful rel­e­vance to con­tem­po­rary ques­tions of democ­ra­cy and indi­vid­ual free­dom.

In each Book­storm™, we offer a bib­li­og­ra­phy of books that have close ties to the the fea­tured book. For Catch You Lat­er, Trai­tor, you’ll find books for a vari­ety of tastes, inter­ests, and read­ing abil­i­ties. Catch You Lat­er, Trai­tor will be com­fort­ably read by ages 10 through adult. We’ve includ­ed pic­ture books, nov­els, and non­fic­tion for the pletho­ra of pur­pos­es you might have. This Book­storm™ has a few more books for adults than usu­al, believ­ing that a back­ground in the era will be help­ful for edu­ca­tors who weren’t alive dur­ing, or wish to brush up on, the time in which this book takes place.

McCarthy Era, also known as the Red Scare. Sur­pris­ing­ly, there aren’t very many books writ­ten for young read­ers about this intense time in his­to­ry, but we’ve select­ed a few that will align well with Catch You Lat­er, Trai­tor.

Non­fic­tion. There are a greater num­ber of non­fic­tion books avail­able about the ear­ly 1950s, includ­ing lifestyle books, the Cold War, fash­ion, the Hol­ly­wood Ten, and spies.

Com­mu­nism, Social­ism in the Unit­ed States. Were you aware that a group of Finnish-Amer­i­cans moved to Rus­sia to set up a Utopi­an com­mu­ni­ty based on promis­es from Russ­ian leader Joseph Stal­in?

Witch Hunts. A clas­sic book, a clas­sic play, and a fas­ci­nat­ing look at an inci­dent of the “Red Scare” in children’s books.

Mid-Cen­tu­ry Unit­ed States. Superb rec­om­men­da­tions for books, both fic­tion and non­fic­tion, set in the 1950s. Read­ing sev­er­al of these along with Catch You Lat­er, Trai­tor will give stu­dents an excel­lent fla­vor of the time, which offers a mir­ror for oth­er peri­ods in his­to­ry as well as the present.

Base­ball in the 1950s. It was the most talked-about sport in the coun­try, claim­ing head­lines and tun­ing radios in to lis­ten to “the game.” We’ve gath­ered a wide-rang­ing set of books that will include some­thing for every read­er, from pic­ture books to books for adults.

Noir Detec­tive Fic­tion. We men­tioned Sam Spade, but what exact­ly does “noir” mean? Here are good exam­ples, span­ning ear­ly chap­ter books such as Chet Gecko to a graph­ic nov­el like City of Spies to Dashiell Hammett’s Mal­tese Fal­con.

Old-Time Radio. There are whole radio pro­grams online to be shared with your class­room, along with a series on YouTube that depicts the work­ings of a radio stu­dio, and Avi’s own nov­el about the hey­day of radio seri­als.

Tech­niques for using each book:

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