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Hero on a Bicycle Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (April 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076366037X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763660376
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #355,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5–8–The first novel (Candlewick, 2013) by octogenarian Shirley Hughes, the award-winning picture book author and illustrator, is set in Italy in 1944. The story follows 13-year-old Paolo, his 16-year-old sister Costanza, and their mother. The family lives in the outskirts of Nazi-occupied Florence. Their father, an anti-Fascist, fled when the Nazi's took control, leaving the family in a politically precarious position. Paolo's nighttime forays into the city on his bicycle have brought his family into contact with the Partisans, the Italian resistance, who ask them “in a convincing manner, made more convincing because of the gun” to help them. Told in third-person narration, the story builds in tension, skillfully shifting between the perspectives of each main character as well as the many well-developed secondary characters who add depth and understanding to an age-old question this story seeks to answer: What motivates people's actions in times of war? Simon Vance's incomparable vocal style is a perfect fit for this intense and suspenseful work of historical fiction. With his strong and consistently paced narration, as well as subtle and skillful character voices, Vance's performance is both nuanced and captivating. A website (www.heroonabicycle.co.uk) offers additional material to supplement lesson plans or deepen book discussions. For those interested in offering students more in-depth information about the time period, other supplemental sources would be required. Highly recommended for students who enjoyed John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (David Fickling Bks., 2007) and historical or WWII fiction.–Chani Craig. Converse Middle School. Palmer, MA α(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Booklist

The resistance movement in WWII Italy is the backdrop for a beloved picture-book creator’s first full-length novel. In 1944, with Nazi soldiers occupying the city and their father away, teens Paolo and Costanza Crivelli are bored. Paolo, 13, sneaks out to bike through the streets of Florence at night, seeking adventure, avoiding the occupying Germans, and hoping to meet his heroes, the Partisans, while his 16-year-old sister sulks in her room. In spite of their mother’s attempts to shelter them, the war comes far too close when their mother, already under suspicion because of her English background and her husband’s known anti-Fascist views, reluctantly agrees to hide a pair of escaped prisoners of war. Soon Paolo becomes part of the escape strategy, and his bicycle becomes a Partisan tool. An omniscient narrator switches focus among the three family members as the action takes place in and under the family villa, in dark city streets, and in the surrounding countryside. The mounting suspense will keep readers turning pages. An absorbing survival adventure. Grades 5-8. --Kathleen Isaacs

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Susan Golden on May 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This novel is a worthy capstone to Shirley Hughes's illustrious picture book career. Picture a British born woman, a longtime citizen of Italy, her teenage daughter and thirteen year old son fending for themselves in wartime Florence during German occupation as the war literally reaches their front yard. Father is fighting with the Partisans and nobody knows where he is. Signora Crivelli tries to keep a low profile because of her English nationality and husband's anti-Nazi politics but knows she is under the eye of the Gestapo. Her children miss their father and have lost normal childhoods because of the war. Enter two escaped Allied POW's foisted on the family by the Partisans and events take off. There is an interesting narrative style going on here as the story is told in the third person but with alternating points of view. Mother is scared and alone but determined to be brave and survive the war with her family intact. Teenage Costanza is excited by harboring the fugitives, though aware of their danger, and Paolo wants to be a hero and help the soldiers get back to the Partisans and then back to their units. Everybody's fears and courage are explored, especially as Paolo tries to escort the escapees to their next helpers. The story is very suspenseful as well as exploring moral issues and the complexities of war. The characters felt real and believable to me. It is not easy to write a major adult character in a children's book but Hughes pulls it off with Signora Crivelli. Costanza learns much as she is forced to grow up quickly and Paolo learns that war is not an adventurous game. Hero on a Bicycle is touching and full of believeable action. I believe readers 12 and up will enjoy the novel. Nobody is perfect. Yes, the Gestapo is hateful, but one young German officer is kind and helpful to the family. The Partisans are brave and reckless, but they are also ruthless as they battle for their country.Lots to think about here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By HUMMY on June 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read all the books before I give them to my grandchildren. This book was particularly worthwhile. In addition to the suspense of the story, it provided a World War II background, about which many young people are not particularly aware. It also contained ethical dilemmas which were resolved thoughtfully. I would highly recommend it for all thirteen year olds, the age of my youngest grandchild.
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Format: Hardcover
Book #83 Read in 2013
Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes (YA)

This book is set in Florence, Italy in 1944 and tells of the Nazi occupation in that country. Paolo is a young boy whose father is a soldier and has left him in charge of the family. He longs for action and adventure but when he gets some in his life, it is slightly more than he bargained for. Paolo's mother is English and is doing her own war duty in their hometown. This book was a good, quick historical fiction read, especially for middle school boys. There was action enough to keep the book moving at a good pace. Also, with Paolo's sister and her attraction to a Canadian soldier, there was enough romance to hook girls as readers too. I enjoyed it.

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By CCode on July 29, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
One could almost feel like he were experiencing this adventure himself. It was well written and a real enjoyable read.
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