It is the Fall of 1941 and Madeline Beck is living with her mother at Mrs. Hawkins' Mansion-by-the-Sea, a boarding house on Long Island. Her father has been sent off to guard the Pacific coast on an aircraft carrier, and Madeline is very scared of all that she hears about the impending War in the Pacific. Will her Dad be alright? What if the Japanese decide to attack?
Along with her worries about the war and her father, she must also deal with the anxiety of being the new kid at school. Things brighten up, though, when Johnny Vecchio, who is fascinated by the war and her father's role in it, starts paying close attention to Madeline. They develop a friendship that helps Madeline through the toughest times, from the awful fear of losing her father to the tragic and terrifying bombing of Pearl Harbor. He helps her to remain brave and committed in the face of the war.