A Spy on the Homefront

Written in 2005 by Alison Hart, illustrated by Jean-Paul Tibbles


Molly is at her grandparents' farm, enjoying summer vacation. She has fun playing with Anna, the neighbor girl. Anna's parents are from Germany. This isn't an issue until one day the FBI comes looking around. Anna's family is being watched because, being German, they're guilty-by-association. Molly is appalled that anyone would seriously consider Anna's family to be a threat. Her older brother's job at the airfield is even at stake, despite the fact that her American-born brother has never even been to Germany.

Things get even more serious when Molly's aunt Eleanor is arrested after FBI agents find anti-American propaganda in the airplane she's flying down to Texas. When Molly tells Anna about this latest development, Anna says the FBI found the same sort of thing in her house, and that the same thing happened to some friends of her parents, who are now in an internment camp. Someone must be planting the evidence.

Eleanor comes home the next day, and tells Molly and her grandparents that the FBI is trying to find out which member or members of the Silver Legion, a real-life Nazi sympathizer group, is planting the propaganda. They've arrested Anna's brother. Determined to clear his name, Anna goes with Molly to the airfield to look at Eleanor's plane. The FBI was so focused on the German family that they missed the oily fingerprints around the cargo area where the propaganda leaflets were found. Later, Molly sneaks into the locker room at the airfield, and finds a stack of propaganda leaflets in the locker of one of the maintenance workers. She takes a leaflet to the airfield manager, who promises to bring it to the attention of the FBI.

But the next day, Anna's brother is still under arrest. Molly and Anna go back to the airfield to find the manager and ask what the FBI thought of the leaflet. He's not in his office, but Molly sees the leaflet is still in his jacket pocket. Following clues, Molly and Anna end up in an unused storage shelter, where they find some Silver Legion outfits. And then someone locks them in...and it's the manager! Fortunately, Molly's aunt Eleanor arrives soon after, with an FBI agent and the maintenance worker in whose locker Molly found the leaflets. Quickly, Molly and Anna show the FBI agent the Silver Legion clothing, and all of them rush back to the manager's office. They're just in time to catch him, complete with a briefcase full of evidence against him, exonerating Anna's brother.

The next day Molly has to go back home. First, she wants to hurry over to Anna's house to say goodbye. When she gets there, everything's boarded up and the family is gone. Molly panics, thinking Anna and her family have been taken to an internment camp. But she finds a letter from Anna, explaining that despite what happened, the FBI is still suspicious of her family, and they've gone to stay with friends far away from the allegations. She gives Molly an address so they can still write. In the end, for all the outrage Molly feels, that's all she do: write a letter so Anna knows that Molly is still her friend.

Looking Back

Most of us who grew up in the United States learned about the Japanese internment camps, where Japanese immigrants were forced to live during parts of World War II. The government thought they could be spies, and rounded them up with no due process. What I didn't know until I read this section was the German immigrants received the same treatment, accused of secretly working with the Nazis. Then this section randomly adds some paragraphs about the Women's Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) program, which trained women to fly military planes in non-combat roles. It's jarring and comes out of nowhere, as if someone suddenly remembered that the book was supposed to be inspiring young girls to grow up to be whatever they want.


This book is dedicated to "my father, Karl Leonhardt, and his family." The author's last name is Hart...seems like there's a story there. Could be something as simple as her father's family being German like the family in the story, and the author wanting to use a pen name instead of her given last name.

Molly reads Nancy Drew books.

I'm glad this book makes the good point that not all Germans supported Hitler. Hitler himself wasn't even German; he was Austrian (and of course there were and are plenty of Austrians who weren't fond of him). My grandparents' neighbor was in the Hitler Youth, but not because he supported Hitler. He was just a child then, who probably didn't understand all the atrocities the higher-ups in the Nazi army were committing. He just knew that if he didn't join, his parents would likely be murdered.

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