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The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club (Bccb Blue Ribbon Nonfiction Book Award (Awards)) Hardcover – May 12, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—In April 1940, occupying German forces made Denmark a "protectorate" of the Third Reich. The Danish government accepted the occupation, but a small group of teen boys, angry at their nation's cowardice, formed the secret Churchill Club to resist the Germans and conducted a six-month spree of sabotage and destruction. Incorporating lengthy first-person reminiscences of one of the group's leaders, Knud Pedersen, Hoose describes how the club recruited members, exploited their youth and innocent looks to deceive their parents and the Germans, appropriated weapons, and carried out guerilla-style attacks from their bicycles. Although the boys were eventually arrested and imprisoned, their exploits made them national heroes, shamed many adults, and fueled Danish resistance. After the war, Winston Churchill honored their efforts. The book is well organized, effectively integrating Pedersen's vivid descriptions of his group's motives, determination, and sometimes foolhardy bravery within the larger narrative, which includes information about Denmark, the war, and the boys' families and lives. Sidebars, detailed maps, and period photos supplement the text. Often reading like a thriller, this title puts a human face on the often-overlooked Danish Resistance and complements titles such as Michael Burgan's Refusing to Crumble: The Danish Resistance in World War II (Compass Pt., 2010) and Ellen Levine's Darkness over Denmark: The Danish Resistance and the Rescue of the Jews (Holiday House, 2000). VERDICT A captivating work that will appeal to many readers.—Mary Mueller, Rolla Public Schools, MO
A Booklist Editors’ Choice • A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year and Best Teen Book of the Year • A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year • A New York Public Library Notable
“These teenagers risked all-and lost much . . . This energetic work of nonfiction . . . will cheer the hearts of readers whatever their age.” ―The Wall Street Journal
“An outstanding addition to the WWII canon . . . Hoose brilliantly weaves Pedersen's own words into the larger narrative of Denmark's stormy social and political wartime climate.” ―The Horn Book, starred review
“Often reading like a thriller, this title puts a human face on the often-overlooked Danish Resistance . . . Captivating.” ―School Library Journal, starred review
“Their story is one of bravery in the face of constant danger and of increasingly meaningful acts of sabotage . . . An important and unforgettable book that adds a significant chapter to the history of WWII.” ―Booklist, starred review
“[An] inspiring account.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Hoose tells this largely unknown story with passion and clarity . . . A superbly told, remarkable true story.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“What an edge-of-your-seat narrative it is-and even more compelling for teen readers, who are the same age as the real-life protagonists.” ―The Bulletin, starred review
“A rousing real-life adventure tale.” ―Christian Science Monitor
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Top Customer Reviews
I have great admiration for the young men and women with the courage it took to stand up to their countrymen and try to make a difference. It is this kind of heroism that makes me proud of my heritage.
I found this book to be very enlightening and an easy read.
Not every Dane was happy with their government's decision, and that's where this relatively unknown story comes in. Knud and Jens Pedersen, mere schoolboys, got some friends together and began actively sabotaging their German occupiers. When they were finally found, arrested, and imprisoned, the movement grew and spread. This book is the story of "The Churchill Club," those schoolboys who set off a movement in their nation.
The story is told in both the third-person, with supporting historical research, and in first-person by Knud himself, as well as a few others. There are also photographs and illustrations.
Possible objectionable material: Many, if not all, of the boys smoke. They are imprisoned and poorly treated. They set things on fire. General hooliganism, but for a purpose.
Who might like it: Anyone interested in WWII history, especially those parts that are not as well-known. Girls are minor characters in the book, but do have a presence. The book is aimed at ages 12-18.
Thanks to NetGalley for the Advanced Reader Copy.
Many readers want to know all there is to know about World War II, and this is an absorbing read that hits close to home. Read it with Jablonski's graphic novel series about the French Resistance (Resistance, Defiance, Victory), Preus' Norwegian Resistance novel, Shadow on the Mountain, or the Couloumbis' War Games, which centers on the Greek Resistance.
Based on intensive interviews with Knudsen, as well as Knudsen's amazing archive of photographs and research, this well-researched book tells a riveting tale of people who stood up for what they believed, even though they were very young. I have always been interested in the various resistance groups, especially since most of them utilized my primary source of transportation-- the bicycle!
This was a great length, had amazing primary source information, and was extremely interesting. I am so glad that Hoose followed up on a forgotten e mail with Pedersen, because this was a fantastic book.