The Real Hero by Judy Dodge Cummings
The Real Hero is a mystery in which an 11-year-old boy eats worms, chases trains, cracks codes, and kisses the girl in his quest to unmask a spy posing as a patriot.
Steve Abernathy is on a mission to protect the home front while his brother fights Nazis in Europe. A loyal member of Captain Asgardia’s fan club, Steve has pledged to help his comic book hero Fight for Freedom, Defend Justice, and Destroy Evil. His patriotic zeal is put to the test in the summer of 1944 when German POWs are stationed in town. Morse code flashes from the prison camp at night. Dieter Zinzerdorf, a suspiciously charming prisoner, seems to be everywhere he shouldn’t be, like swapping gum with Steve’s older sister.
When Steve discovers his own Sunday School teacher passing coded messages to Zinzerdorf, he vows to expose their spy ring and gain his rightful fame as town hero. But the villains on either side of the prison camp fence don’t wear easily identifiable masks like the ones in Steve’s comic books. If he can’t sort friend from foe, Steve won’t just fail his mission, he’ll put his sister’s life at risk.
Here is my first paragraph of The Real Hero. (which I have revised a zillion times.)
Chapter 1: Metamorphosis
The coffin looked plain, brown, and lonely, and even though my brain knew who was being buried today, my gut didn’t always trust my brain, and my gut wanted to be absolutely, positively certain my big brother wasn’t inside that wooden box. But if I jumped up and demanded somebody open the lid, Mom and Dad would hang me from my nostrils. Instead, I reached into my pants pocket and pulled out Robert’s last letter. Smoothing the wrinkled brown paper, I read the message for the zillionth time.
The Real Hero is rooted in the true history of the German prisoner-of-war camp based in my hometown of Reedsburg, Wisconsin during World War II. Historic images mark the beginning of each chapter and hint at plot elements to come. Here are a few of the images that fueled my curiosity and shaped my story.
I have three other completed young adult manuscripts. However, these are still in various states of revision. Stay tuned for more information about them.