Montgomery and the Case of the Golden Key
By Publishers Weekly
This endearing middle grade debut by Crowder, set in 2008 on the South Side of Chicago, is an ode to community engagement. Montgomery Carver, a tennis enthusiast and bearer of an “all-that” Afro, aspires to make this summer the best ever. But when he sneaks out carrying the metal detector his parents plan to give him for his upcoming 10th birthday—and accidentally breaks it—he is tasked with finding a way to pay them back. Unbeknownst to his parents, Monty uncovered a golden key buried in neighbor Ms. Jenkins’s yard. The discovery sends Monty on an investigation into the key’s origins, which is punctuated by his doing odd jobs for community members and navigating his neighbors’ apprehension and excitement surrounding Chicago’s bid to host the Olympics. Throughout his inquiry, he learns of Black horse jockeys, train porters, and more, as well as their connections to the found key, Black history, and his beloved town. Crowder employs Monty’s inquisitive and irrepressible first-person narration to rousing effect, making for a spirited novel that encourages curiosity while highlighting a protagonist alongside the neighborhood and history fueling his personal growth.