In November 1943, 10-year-old budding inventor Dewey Kerrigan sets off on a cross-country train ride to be with her father, who is engaged in "war work." She is busy designing a radio when a fellow passenger named Dick Feynman offers to help her.
The mystery and tension surrounding "war work" and what Dewey knows only as "the gadget" trickles down to the kids living in the Los Alamos compound, who often do without adult supervision. Although disliked by her girl classmates, "Screwy Dewey" enjoys Los Alamos. There are lots of people to talk with about radios (including "Oppie"), and she has the wonderful opportunity to dig through the nearby dump for discarded science stuff. However, when Dewey's father leaves for Washington, she is left to fend off the biggest bully in Los Alamos.
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