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Review: The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose

Title: The Boys Who Challenged Hitler
Author: Phillip Hoose
Year Published: 2016

Genre: YA non-fiction
Pages: 175 (plus notes, bibliography and index)
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2017 Google Reading map)Denmark

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school's library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): At the outset of World War II, Denmark did not resist German occupation. Deeply ashamed of his nation's leaders, fifteen-year-old Knud Pedersen resolved with his brother and a handful of schoolmates to take action against the Nazis if the adults would not. Naming their secret club after the fiery British leader, the young patriots in the Churchill Club committed countless acts of sabotage, infuriating the Germans, who eventually had the boys tracked down and arrested. But their efforts were not in vain: the boys' exploits and eventual imprisonment helped spark a full-blown Danish resistance in the latter years of the war. 

Interweaving his own narrative with the recollections of Knud himself, Phillip Hoose captures the astounding story of these young war heroes who refused to give in without a fight.

Review: I am not sure where I first heard of this book, but it's one of those that has been in the back of my mind for a while now so when I saw it on display at one of our junior high libraries, I snapped it right up.

After I began this book I realized that I wasn't really in the mood for a history/non-fiction so that's probably why I've given this book a 4 and not a 4.5. The story is amazing, the research very well done, and it's perfect for teens.

The author connected with Knud Pederson, one of the main members of the Churchill Club, and asked if he could tell their story. They spent a week doing interviews in person and then emailed back and forth every day until the book was finished. He also got in touch with other saboteurs and family members so the story is rich in detail and is often told in their own voices. 

What these teenagers did in Denmark is remarkable: they single-handedly started the Danish resistance against the Germans during WWII! Their work started out slowly with changing directional signs to confuse the Germans, but built up to cutting communication lines and setting buildings and vehicles on fire to stealing German weapons. And they were only fifteen to seventeen years old.

Unfortunately, they were eventually caught and spent a couple years in prison while the war waged on. However, while they were in prison, others took up their cause and the Danish resistance was born. Upon their release they were treated as heroes. This is an uplifting story in that I was so impressed with the work of these teenagers, but also an intense read as their work was dangerous and their time in prison awful.

If you or your students are interested in World War II resistance, especially by young people I recommend this book. It reminded me of The White Rose, the story of Sophie and Hans Scholl who printed and distributed anti-Nazi leaflets in Germany.

Challenges for which this counts:

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