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Danger in the Darkest Hour facts for kids

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World at War, 1944
Danger in the Darkest Hour.jpg
Author Mary Pope Osborne
Illustrator Sal Murdocca
Series Magic Tree House
Subject Second World War
Genre historical fiction,
children's fiction
Publisher Random House
Publication date
Pages 182 pages
ISBN 9780553497724
OCLC 881824176

Danger in the Darkest Hour was written by Mary Pope Osborne and illustrated by Sal Murdocca and published by Random House in 2015. The book is dedicated to Osborne's father, Colonel William P. Pope, who fought in the Second World War. It is the first Super Edition of the Magic Tree House Series.


Jack and Annie use the tree house to arrive at Glastonbury, England. There they discover that they have traveled back to June 4, 1944. Teddy tells them how they have landed in one of the greatest monasteries of Europe. He tells them how Merlin sent him and Kathleen to bring hope to British leaders in the fight against the Nazis. Kathleen has sent Teddy a message that even the SOE (Special Operations Executive) cannot decipher. The message states:

"Come to me in the darkest time. A wand I need, and a magic rhyme. Three miles east of Sir Kay's grave. Cross the river to find a cave. Look for knights, and small, round cows- A crack in a rock beneath the boughs." It is the mission of Jack and Annie to locate Kathleen and deliver the Wand of Dianthus and a magic rhyme to her. They are to relay the message "The unicorn is free" to Teddy after accomplishing this mission. Teddy takes them to Caen in Normandy, France, in his airplane. After parachuting from the plane, they discover that Teddy forgot to give them the wand! They discover that they landed in the French city of Bieville, which is where Teddy would meet up with them and Kathleen.

However, they have greater problems- there are Nazis after them. After escaping three Nazi planes, they discover several Nazis and a dog are chasing them. They hide in a barn, and Annie gently strokes the dog, a German Shepherd named Fritz- which calms down and does not betray their location. They discover two members of the French Resistance-Gaston and Suzette, and share a meal with them. They discover that the couple's sons- Tom and Theo- were captured in Paris by the Nazis. The next day, June 5, 1944, they discover that D-Day is tomorrow and that they must complete their mission that day.

As they flash the V is for Victory sign at a woman, Jack gets careless and two Nazi-supporters discover them. A milkman drives them to Caen, and they discuss their next move. However, four cars of Nazis drive up. Jack and Annie purchase train tickets to get to the cave of Mondeville across the river Orne, in order to complete their mission. Jack and Annie notice that the Nazis are tormenting an old man, and they feel furious. After they board their train, two Nazis check their belongings, discovering French Resistance posters that Annie took. Just as they are about to arrest Jack, an explosion set up by the French Resistance rocks the train. The pair escapes, crosses the River Orne, and tries to settle down with some lemonade at Sylvie's Bistro. As they discuss the fliers that Annie took, Sylvie spots them and wants to talk to them. Sylvie first discusses Tom and Theo, and later helps them with their mission. They learn that Tom and Theo are actually free in Spain.

Sylvie tells them that "yellow knights" and "white calves" are names of apples, and that her bistro is on the Road of Rocks. She directs them to a deserted chateau on the road with a small orchard. Jack and Annie tells her to send a telegram stating that Tom and Theo are free. As the pair approaches their destination, they discover a small crack in a rock, and find out that Kathleen is with a small group of young children. Kathleen explains that her mission was to rescue two Jewish children from behind enemy lines but discovered that there was ten at the orphanage when she arrived. Kathleen has been protecting them, but her despair over their seemingly hopeless situation has drained her magic and without the wand they have no way of performing magic.

With no magic to rely on, Jack and Annie decide to fall back on their regular skills to get Kathleen and the children to safety. Annie comes up with the idea of having Sylvie send a message to Teddy for them that they need a bigger plane and to steal a bakery truck parked nearby to transport everyone back to Bieville. While Kathleen can't drive, Jack knows how despite his young age and lack of license, but lacks the self-confidence to perform the task. However, with no other choice and not wanting to disappoint Kathleen who has great faith in him, Jack agrees to try. Jack is able to drive the group most of the way without incident, but they encounter a Nazi checkpoint which makes him nervous. Kathleen claims to cast a spell that makes the truck invisible and Jack is able to drive through the checkpoint without seemingly being seen. Afterwards, Kathleen admits that she didn't actually cast a spell, rather she knew that if Jack showed an air of confidence at the checkpoint, the Nazis would take them to be an ordinary bakery truck and let them pass. Jack is stunned by his ability to fool the Nazis and is able to get them to Bieville without further problems.

When they arrive at Bieville, they discover a large, silver plane that seemingly arrived out of nowhere. The plane transports the kids across the English Channel to Glastonbury, England. On the way, Kathleen, her powers restored, casts a spell that sends hundreds of Tom and Theo's flyers of hope over France. In Glastonbury, the rescued kids are transported to London by the SOE and Jack and Annie discover that the plane's pilot was Merlin who conjured the plane to help them escape. The two kids then return to Frog Creek and they reflect on the terrible thing that is war.

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