I know several middle grade kids who open a new book and will read just the first page before declaring “this is boring.” That won’t be a problem when I hand them the exciting and compelling THE BOY AND THE SPY.

Check out the opener:

The boy is running as fast as he can.
And right behind him is a German soldier.
They charge through a flock of flapping pigeons.
“Halt! Halt!” the soldier bellows. He yells at the boy to stop, first in German, then Italian. “Did you hear me? Stop, or I will shoot!”
But the boy doesn’t stop. In fact, he runs faster, his scuffed and well-worn shoes pounding hard on the cobblestones.

It only gets more intense from here in this well thought out historical fiction tale set in WWII Italy. Although the characters are fiction, the time period of WWII is very real.

Antonio is a young boy who meets an injured American spy named Chris. Antonio vows to help the American get back to allied safety. This despite putting himself and others in grave danger since the town of Sicily is German occupied. Danger is around every corner but brave Antonio pushes forth. His gift of drawing vivid pictures in his notebook bring calm to his surrounding along with helping the spy.


  1. The story is so engaging is will increase interest by young readers in learning more about this time period in our history.
  2. The ending is abrupt after 176 pages, but it is a satisfying one.
  3. Simonetta is a new friend who helps Antonio. She is a real gem and not afraid to do what is needed to provide assistance.
  4. Antonio was abandoned as a baby and adopted. He does not belong in this town as the citizens constantly remind him. The emotion of how this plays out along with the failing health of his adopted parent brings many gut wrenching scenes.
  5. Chapter titles are in both Italian and English. A perfect way to keep the setting as a constant reminder.

THE BOY AND THE SPY is a fast-paced riveting tale and one that is hard to put down. EPIC Historic Adventure series has two other titles by the same author:

Click on either book for more information.


In addition to being a prolific writer of children’s books, Felice Arena is also an accomplished actor, public speaker and artist.

​In the Nineties he played Marco Alessi in the TV soap opera Neighbours for a year before heading off to pursue a musical theatre career in London. During his time in the UK he starred in West End musicals Hair, Godspell and What a Feeling. 

​It was in this period he began to write, sparked by nostalgia for his boyhood days in country Victoria. Felice’s debut novel, a story about a dolphin and a swimmer set in Australia, was picked up by a UK publisher, and he hasn’t looked back since.

​Felice’s books have topped bestseller lists and garnered several awards, including six Australian Children Choice Book Awards. ​Some of these include the Andy Roid series, the much-loved junior reader books Sporty Kids and The Besties, the cheeky read-aloud picture book Poo And Other Words That Make Me Laugh!, the hugely popular Specky Magee series, his acclaimed historical adventures and CBCA notable books The Boy and the Spy, Fearless Frederic A Great Escape, and most recently his moving and inspiring middle-grade novel The Unstoppable Flying Flanagan.

​Felice’s books have also been published in the UK, USA, Ireland, New Zealand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, and China. (For more visit Felice’s Website)




About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Historical fiction, Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to THE BOY AND THE SPY

  1. I agree with you that the first lines hook you. This sounds like a short, fast-paced book perfect for kids and adults who want an interesting story and a fast read. Thanks for featuring it this week.

  2. I love me some good historical fiction. Haven’t read a lot set in Italy, so I’d be interested in reading. Thanks for sharing.

  3. This book sounds a great read, and has a lot to it, despite the short length. I love that it is set in Italy too. The author sounds super-talented too – artist, actor and writer!!

  4. Oh cool! I hadn’t heard of this book, but it sounds like a really engaging one. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  5. What a great opening. It certainly will appeal to readers. I like the sound of this series. Have a friend looking for historical fiction for her 12-year-old son. Will recommend the author and books to her! Lots of action and suspense! I love how authors are making history much more interesting.

  6. Oh, boy. I think I’m hooked. This sounds like a terrific story and a great way for kids to learn history. I will be looking for this one. Thanks for the post.

  7. Linda Browne says:

    This sounds like a good one, with plenty of emotional turmoil to underpin the historical drama. Thanks, Greg!

  8. Andrea Mack says:

    I love stories that bring history to life in a vivid way. Sounds intriguing!

Place your thoughts here with a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.