What happens when a small group of misfits collide in the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the day Pearl Harbor is attacked? They stumble haphazardly into an Arthurian mystery that has Nazi ties, and it is somehow up to them to save New York from a Nazi terrorist attack, of course.
The four kids are a young white orphan, Madge; Kiku, daughter of a Japanese museum curator; Joe, a Mohawk boarding school runaway; and Walt, a white Jewish boy sent to New York from Germany to escape the concentration camps. These four come together to solve a mystery to decode the stolen Kelmsbury, an ancient manuscript. The new friends have had a shared dream of a mysterious man in a trench coat, and they suspect it signals a magical link that ties them to the King Arthur legend. There is a lot going on in this far-fetched tale that reads like an adolescent version of The DaVinci Code, and credulity needs to stretch to accommodate it, as the author leaves it to this arbitrary bunch to run around the Met in search of clues amid an underworld of adult spies during wartime. Contemporary young readers may wish for a primer to sort through the inundation of historical references, be it to the World War II era or ancient Britain. As the text also name-checks Boris Karloff, Joan Fontaine, and the Queen of Sheba, among others, with a little dash of Mohawk language tossed in, readers will need to be either very flexible or ready to look up what they don’t know.
This historical hodgepodge begs the question, what is this book really about? (Historical adventure. 10-14)