April 16, 2014

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Pick of the Day: Shadow on the Mountain

star Pick of the Day: Shadow on the Mountainshadow on the mountain Pick of the Day: Shadow on the MountainPREUS, Margi. Shadow on the Mountain. 386p. bibliog. chron. maps. photos. CIP. Abrams/Amulet. 2012. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-4197-0424-6. LC 2012015623.
Gr 6-9–This engrossing offering sheds light on the Norwegians’ courage during World War II. Preus masterfully weds a story of friendship with the complications faced by 14-year-old Espen and his friends as Nazi restrictions and atrocities become part of their everyday lives. Espen not only has to deal with the political turmoil, but also with discovering that his best friend has joined the German cause, which Espen is committed to work against. Even his young sister, Ingrid, joins the resistance when she gets a bit older. Norway’s hazardous topography adds to the adventure as Espen must ski across dangerous mountain passes in order to carry out his secret missions. This is at once a spy thriller, a coming-of-age story, and a chronicle of escalating bravery. Multidimensional characters fill this gripping tale that keeps readers riveted to the end. An informative author’s note explains that Espen was inspired by Erling Storrusten, who, as a teenager, helped in the resistance movement. A “Bonus for Code Breakers” and instructions for making invisible ink are appealing additions. Preus aptly celebrates the determination of ordinary citizens in this book. Similar truths are told in Mal Peet’s Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passions and Betrayal (Candlewick, 2008) and Kathy Kacer’s Night Spies (Tandem, 2003).–Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ