Montgomery and the Case of the Golden Key

By Kirkus Reviews

An almost-10-year-old boy races to solve the mystery of a golden key while forming deeper connections with people in his Chicago community.

Born and raised in the South Side of Chicago, Montgomery Carver lives in a world filled with small but plentiful delights. It’s the summer of 2008, and Monty’s Washington Park neighborhood is buzzing with excitement: A man named Barack Obama could become the first Black president of the United States, and Chicago could host the 2016 Olympics. Monty’s summer plans include perfecting his Afro and mastering his tennis serve. But when he prematurely unwraps his birthday present (a metal detector), uses it to find a skeleton key buried in Old Lady Jenkins’ flower bed, and then breaks his gift, he gets in trouble with his parents. Forced to work to pay them back, Monty does odd jobs for the neighbors, getting to know them—including community activist Ms. Jenkins—better in the process. Monty feverishly makes observations, does research, asks questions, and forms hypotheses, uncovering the story of the key, which reveals surprising connections to Washington Park and spotlights a lesser-known chapter in Black history. Tu Books’ New Visions Award winner Crowder’s debut depicts a vibrant community, showcasing the importance of civic responsibility and the power of grassroots organization. The narrative’s first-person perspective captures Monty’s infinite curiosity and endearing sense of wonder.

An engaging novel drawing strength from its rich narrative voice and celebrating Black historical luminaries.