Hmm, this book was just one that I judged it by the cover. Looked interesting so I got it from the library. It was okay. It won a Newberry honor award. It is written for maybe a 8-10 yr. old.
It takes place in 1944 right in the middle of World War II. A little girl and her grandmother live in Rockaway during the summer near the Atlantic Ocean. They see the convoys of ships going out to sea and to fight in the war. They have to eat Spam and canned fish. The vegetables are from a victory gardens. The little girls dad is an engineer and has to go to war to help rebuild France. The little girl likes to spy and look for Nazi's in her neighborhood.
She finally finds a friend. He is a young boy that escaped from Europe but his sister is still there. He is staying with some friends in Canada that always come to Rockaway for the summer. His grandmother, mother and father are killed in the war for trying to print propaganda against the war in Budapest. He wants to go back and get his sister but he can't swim. He talks Lily, the little girl, into teaching him so he can swim out to a ship going to Europe. She knows this is impossible but she wants to go too and plays along with the idea until one evening there is a storm and they both almost get drowned.
They find a cat and they share secrets about their dreams and fears. They become best friends. I think they must be about 10 years old. It is a cute story. It was interesting to think about what life was like for those left at home during the war. The only thing they have to go by is the radio and letters from loved ones. So many boys didn't come back, so many people died.
The story has a happy ending when the dad comes home and the little boys sister is found and brought to America also. Lily starts to write stories and play the piano and she really learns that summer how much her grandmother loves her.