From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8–Two girls spend a year in Los Alamos as their parents work on the secret gadget that will end World War II. Dewey is a mechanically minded 10-year-old who gets along fine with the scientists at the site, but is teased by girls her own age. When her mathematician father is called away, she moves in with Suze, who initially detests her new roommate. The two draw closer, though, and their growing friendship is neatly set against the tenseness of the Los Alamos compound as the project nears completion. Clear prose brings readers right into the unusual atmosphere of the secretive scientific community, seen through the eyes of the kids and their families. Dewey is an especially engaging character, plunging on with her mechanical projects and ignoring any questions about gender roles. Occasional shifts into first person highlight the protagonist's most emotional moments, including her journey to the site and her reaction to her father's unexpected death. After the atomic bomb test succeeds, ethical concerns of both youngsters and adults intensify as the characters learn how it is ultimately used. Many readers will know as little about the true nature of the project as the girls do, so the gradual revelation of facts is especially effective, while those who already know about Los Alamos's historical significance will experience the story in a different, but equally powerful, way.–Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR
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In November 1943, 10-year-old budding inventor Dewey Kerrigan sets off on a cross-country train ride to be with her father, who is engaged in "war work." She is busy designing a radio when a fellow passenger named Dick Feynman offers to help her. Feynman's presence in this finely wrought first novel is the first clue that Dewey is headed for Los Alamos. The mystery and tension surrounding "war work" and what Dewey knows only as "the gadget" trickles down to the kids living in the Los Alamos compound, who often do without adult supervision. Although disliked by her girl classmates, "Screwy Dewey" enjoys Los Alamos. There are lots of people to talk with about radios (including "Oppie"), and she has the wonderful opportunity to dig through the nearby dump for discarded science stuff. However, when Dewey's father leaves for Washington, she is left to fend off the biggest bully in Los Alamos. The novel occasionally gets mired down in detail, but the characters are exceptionally well drawn, and the compelling, unusual setting makes a great tie-in for history classes. John GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved