Set in WWII New York, four kids find themselves at the MET on a cold Sunday afternoon, each dealing with a hand far heavier than any teen should be dealt. Walt was sent to live with family in the US to keep out of Hitler’s grasp. Kiko is a young Chinese girl who looks too much like the enemy to ever be trusted. Madge has been separated from her siblings as a result of her father’s overwhelming grief over her mother’s passing and all she wants is for someone to notice her again. Joe ran away from a reform school for native children thinking he’d killed the principal to protect his younger sister. Despite their individual hardship, they come together to follow the clues hidden in the story of the quest of King Arthur, hoping they will be in time to stop a ring of Nazi’s spies before they can bring harm to the people of New York City. However, between their youth and each battling their own insecurities, the odds are stacked against them.
“Walt clenched his fists at the word children. He was afraid his voice would crack, so he spoke slowly and softly. “I saw children rounded up by the Nazis, and my parents had to send me away with hundreds of other children because it was the only way to keep me safe. Hitler’s already made this a business for children and if there’s a spy working for the Nazis here in New York, I deserve to know what I can do to help.”
This story was cute in Boxcar Children sort of way. A bunch of hard scrabble kids banning together for the greater good. However, the author clearly searched “1940s lingo/slang” and used it rather heavy handedly in all the dialogue. There was a lot of “golly gee” thrown around. It seemed a bit “tell not show”. It was a simple story and written for a younger generation, as is usually the case when I find books at Dollar Tree. However, it didn’t shy away from the state of affairs in WWII. Each of the children were facing a different reality of the time period—hiding from the Nazi’s, racial discrimination, the mistreatment of native people, and just general hardship in the post depression era. I think the though topic were approached in a very age appropriate way, but not unnecessarily sugar coated. IT was a quirky little read that I would recommend to anyone looking for a history/mild fantasy/ coming of age story for a young reader.