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Shadow on the Mountain recounts the adventures of a 14-year-old Norwegian boy named Espen during World War II. After Nazi Germany invades and occupies Norway, Espen and his friends are swept up in the Norwegian resistance movement. Espen gets his start by delivering illegal newspapers, then graduates to the role of courier and finally becomes a spy, dodging the Gestapo along the way. During five years under the Nazi regime, he gains—and loses—friends, falls in love, and makes one small mistake that threatens to ...
Shadow on the Mountain recounts the adventures of a 14-year-old Norwegian boy named Espen during World War II. After Nazi Germany invades and occupies Norway, Espen and his friends are swept up in the Norwegian resistance movement. Espen gets his start by delivering illegal newspapers, then graduates to the role of courier and finally becomes a spy, dodging the Gestapo along the way. During five years under the Nazi regime, he gains—and loses—friends, falls in love, and makes one small mistake that threatens to catch up with him as he sets out to escape on skis over the mountains to Sweden. Preus incorporates archival photographs, maps, and other images to tell this story based on the real-life adventures of Norwegian Erling Storrusten, whom Preus interviewed in Norway. "Newbery Honor winner Preus infuses the story with the good-natured humor of a largely unified, peace-loving people trying to keep their sanity in a world gone awry. Based on a true story, the narrative is woven with lively enough daily historical detail to inspire older middle-grade readers to want to learn more about the Resistance movement and imitate Espen's adventures."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review"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...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."—School Library Journal, starred review"A closely researched historical novel... relates this wartime tale with intelligence and humor...Ms. Preus deftly uses together historical fact (Espen is based on a real-life spy) and elements of Norwegian culture to conjure a time and place not so terribly long ago."—The Wall Street Journal"Margi Preus, who won a Newbery honor for Heart of a Samurai, returns with another riveting work of historical fiction... This fine novel, which includes an author's note, a timeline, a bibliography and even a recipe for invisible ink, is based on extensive research... The result is an authentic coming-of-age story, perfect for readers fascinated by the diary of Anne Frank or Lois Lowry's classic, Number the Stars."—BookPage"The final chapters, which chronicle Espen's dramatic escape to Sweden—days and nights of mountain skiing, Nazis in hot pursuit—take the book into adventure-thriller territory without losing the humanity that characterizes Preus's account."—The Horn Book Magazine
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Posted September 7, 2012
Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus is a historical fiction novel which comfortably fits in the YA category. This is a well researched and exciting book despite its intended audience.
Nazi Germany has swept through Norway, unseating the sit and government. Espen, a 14 year old Norwegian boy, decided to join the resistance movement and starts by delivering illegal newspapers, graduates to courier and finally is sent to spy on the Nazis.
During the Nazi régime, which lasted five years, Espen grows physically and emotionally, falls in love and loses friends. However, the life of a spy is in constant danger and Espen makes a mistake which forces him to flee his beloved country in a dangerous trek through the mountains to Sweden.
Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus takes place in Norway during World War II and follows the adventures of a boy named Espen. As any good historical fiction novel, the book combines actually historical events while exploring the emotional nature which these events caused.
Norway was an important target for the Nazi régime, not because of it is strategically importance, but because of their Aryan look. Hitler clearly hoped to "marry" Germany and Norway in order to produce his vision of the ultimate master race (blond hair, blue eyes and fair skin). However, many Norwegians were against everything the Nazis stood for and resisted bravely.
One interesting aspect of the book is that Ms. Preus takes pains to explore those Norwegians who supported the Nazis. From bullies who found their place among the Nazis, to Norwegians who believed they were picking the less of two evils (being conquered by Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia) and others who simply wanted to get a few extra rations for their families.
The novel runs throughout World War II, each chapter follows the life of four characters, Espen, who is the main protagonist, and his sister Ingrid, Espen's friend Kjell, and Askel the neighborhood bully. Each year which is documented is introduced with a relevant quote, either by a Nazi or an anti-Nazi Norwegian. The quote gives the reader a sense of what to expect from the chapter ahead.
While the story is about young men in times of great challenges, the author does not look down on its audience, but produced an edge-of-your-seat, well researched and documented work which has lessons relevant to today's turbulent times. Ms. Preus also incorporated a pronunciation guide (really, how do you pronounce Kjell?), a brief and relevant history of the era and more. I read a proof but I understand that the finish product will incorporate photos, maps and archival documents.