Monday, July 31, 2017

The Metropolitans

Japan has just bombed Pearl Harbor, and four kids in New York City find themselves drawn to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  All four of them feel alone and guilty for different reasons.

Madge is living with her aunt since her mother's sudden death.  His wife's death was too much for her father who abandoned the family.  Her brothers are living in a group home, and Madge just tries to stay out of her aunt's way when the woman shows up anyway.  On December 7th, she is wandering aimlessly when she remembers that the museum is free.  Maybe the museum can help her while away some lonely hours.

Joe is a Mohawk Indian boy who ran away from a boarding school that tried to force him to forget his language and traditions.  He sees Madge leave her book behind in the park and follows her into the museum to try and return it.

Walt's parents sent him out of Germany to live with relatives at the beginning of the war.  They knew their Jewish family would not be safe in Hitler's Germany, but they thought they would be safe in Paris until they could rejoin Walt in New York.  Now, Germany has conquered France, and Walt hasn't heard from them in months.  He likes to spend time in the museum drawing to distract himself.

Kiku is a Japanese American who suddenly finds herself an enemy of her country after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Her father works in the museum as curator of the Japanese exhibits.  Her mother is in Japan caring for her ailing mother, but now Kiku fears she will never see her again.

The children meet Dr. Bean and Ms. Lake who are caring for a rare manuscript that contains a little known King Arthur story.  When a strange man named Mr. January shows up and kidnaps Kiku's father and steals the manuscript, the kids realize they are the only ones who can solve a series of clues and save the city.  But the more they read, the more they start to think they may be part of an ancient story tracing all the way back to King Arthur and Camelot.

Carol Goodman's new middle-grade novel is a serviceable fantasy, but it could do with some paring down.  About two-thirds of the way through, I was ready for it to be over.  There's a lot of promise here, but it just wasn't my favorite.

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