When seventh-grader Georges and his family move into a new apartment building in Brooklyn, N.Y., he meets 12-year-old Safer, who recruits him to join her spy squad in an attempt to gather intelligence about Mr. X, a man who resides in an upstairs suite. As Georges, narrator Jesse Bernstein is youthful yet wise: a child who's suffered more than his fair share of life. As Safer, Bernstein is darker, sounding like a troubled youth who is ready to control any situation. Of course, there's more than meets the eye in Stead's novel, and Bernstein's understated performance leaves room for interpretation. Listeners will be charmed by this memorable listen and Bernstein's rendition of two unusual and endlessly interesting characters. Ages 8-up. A Wendy Lamb hardcover. (Aug.)[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC
Gr 5-7--Georges is named after Georges Seurat, the noted impressionist, and that extra "s" in his name is doing him no favors. Nicknamed "gorgeous" and "gorges," life in middle school is less than fun. The seventh grader has a lot on his plate: no real friends at school and his family is moving from their home to an apartment because his dad lost his job. Mom is working extra shifts at the hospital to make ends meet so she and Georges are like ships passing in the night. At least, that's what we are led to believe in the beginning. The new apartment holds promise when he meets the quirky family upstairs whose wacky home-schooled kids include him in their spy club and dog walking concerns. Safer, the spymaster, brings Georges out of himself and gives him confidence. In turn, Georges helps Safer start to face his fears and the boys begin to change in ways they never thought possible. Jesse Bernstein voices the different characters well and provides the tonal ups and downs the story demands. However, there is one mispronunciation that mars the otherwise strong performance. All the "str" blends, like street and struggle, are consistently turned into "shtr," like shtreet and shtruggle, which is very disconcerting. A more meticulous reading would have served the story better. That said, the audio version of Stead's story (Wendy Lamb Bks., 2012) would be a great addition to middle-school libraries.--Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA[Page 70]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.