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Lisle, Janet Taylor.
New York : Aladdin Paperbacks, c2000.
IL 5-8, RL 6.2
ISBN 0689837887
Click on the book to read Amazon reviews
The art of keeping cool—what does the title bring to mind?
If I told you that this is a book that takes place during World War II, you might assume that it's a story about soldiers being brave in battle.  You would be wrong.

This story takes place in a small town on the coast of Rhode Island.  Robert, his mother, and his sister have left their farm in Ohio and come to stay in the town where his father grew up, and his grandparents and other relatives still live.   When England first declared war on Germany, Robert father signed up with the Royal Air Force, and he is now flying bombing raids over Germany.   The family had to leave the farm because they couldn't run it with his father gone, and Roberta's mother needed to find a job.

This small Rhode Island town is the site of a naval base, and the local residents are concerned because it is obvious that the base is beefing up security.  German submarines have been spotted all up and down the Atlantic coast, and Americans are afraid that Hitler is planning an invasion.

The atmosphere of tension in the town is nothing compared to the feeling of walking on eggshells that Robert feels in his grandfather's house. His grandfather seems to have an anger simmering just beneath the surface, threatening to explode.  Robert wonders if the anger has something to do with the fact that no one seems to talk about his father in his grandfather's presence.

Robert quickly becomes friends with his cousin, Elliott, who is just his age.
Robert says that Elliott has "mastered the art of keeping cool"? because he doesn't let their grandfather's rages get to him.  Elliott is a talented artist, and he keeps his emotions in check by putting his feelings into his art.

Robert and Elliott become caught in the middle of an explosive situation in the town when people become suspicious about an elderly man, an artist, who has become friends with Elliott.  When people find out that he is German, some are sure that he is a spy.   Is Abel Hoffman, the artist, sneaking under the fence of the military base in order to steal secrets? What will the townspeople do when they find out?  And will Robert discover the secret behind his grandfather's anger?  Keeping cool will be the only way to get through this scary time.  (Joanne Steckling,  librarian,

SUBJECTS:     World War, 1939-1945 -- United States -- Fiction.
                        Family problems -- Fiction.
                        Artists -- Fiction.
                        Cousins -- Fiction.
                        Grandparents -- Fiction.
                        Rhode Island -- Fiction.
                        Historical fiction.

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