The Metropolitans, by Carol Goodman

From the Book’s inside flap:

“Madge, Joe, Kiku, and Walt.

Each comes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a different reason that day in 1941. But soon, the four have joined forces to search for the Kelmsbury Manuscript, an ancient book of legends about King Arthur that’s hidden somewhere within the museum’s collection.

Nazi spies are using the book to send one another coded messages about a planned attack on American soil. If the kids find it, they could prevent the disaster and save hundreds of lives. But they don’t realize the Kelmsbury has power far beyond any ordinary book…and that they’re no the only ones determined to claim it.”

 

The Metropolitans, by Carol Goodman has all of the classic elements of a great children’s book: a quest, danger, friendship, and magic. Like all truly great stories, what makes this story special is the fact that within the fantasy and the fiction the characters take on some of life’s most veritable, and universally painful struggles: loss, alienation, fear, and shame. However, Goodman takes this one step further by weaving in just enough factual elements and places to make the story seem not only believable, but real as well.

Set in New York City at the tail end of the Great Depression four children embark on a quest, over the course of four fateful days in December of 1941, to save the world.

Each of these children comes from a very different background and has known true loss and true hardship.

  • Madge, a young Irish-Catholic girl whose mother has just passed away, father is slowly drinking himself to death, and younger brothers have been placed in an orphanage.
  • Walt, a young German-Jewish boy whose parents, to protect him from being sent to a Nazi death camp, have sent him to stay with his American.
  • Kiku, a young Japanese-American girl whose father is being accused of being a traitor for not reason other than the color of his skin and whose mother is unable to return to the US for the same reason.
  • Joe, a young Mohawk boy living in Central Park who has escaped from “The Mush Hole,” one of the more infamous “residential schools” where native children were stripped of their culture, language and all too often their dignity.

They meet a handful of broken and hurt individuals each trying to bear their hardships alone. Over the course of their quest the children learn not only to recognize and empathize with one another’s pain, but what true friendship is.

Through the course of their quest, just as in any Arthurian Legend, the children encounter danger, confusion, deception and jealousy. However, unlike their adult counterparts, these children are able to work through these problems and misunderstandings and come together stronger because of them, rather than forming permanent scars and even deeper rifts between them.

In The Metropolitans, Goodman has taken on some of life’s most veritable hardships, not to mention some of history’s greatest stains, and wove them into something stronger and more beautiful than the darkenss: love, friendship and loyalty.

 

 

 

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