In 2010, Margi Preus wowed readers with her novel Heart of a Samuri, based on the real life adventures of a Japanese boy named Manjiro. Washed out to sea, he is eventually rescued by a New England whaling vessel and ends up living a totally different life than he dreamt of growing up in his tiny fishing village. Now in her latest novel, Shadow on the Mountain, Preus again sweeps us back in time to meet another young hero, Epsen, who finds his world turned upside down when Nazis invade his homeland of Norway.
Espen wants to join the resistance movement, partly to oppose the Nazis, but also because he longs for adventure. In the beginning, he’s delivering newspapers and passing messages, but over the five-year period, his work becomes more difficult and dangerous, eventually leading to frightening encounters with the German secret police (the Gestapo), a dangerous escape on skis and the realization that one of his former friends has become a Nazi collaborator.
As an added bonus, Preus has included photographs and stories from Erling Storrusten, who served as the inspiration for Espen. Many of the small details from Shadow, such as children wearing red hats as a way to show their loyalty to Norway, are based on actual episodes from Erling’s life. This is a book that works as both an exciting adventure and an important lesson: that small actions, by people often dismissed as insignificant, can make a difference.
302 pages 978-1419704246 Ages 10-14
Recommended by: Susan Harari, Librarian, Massachusetts USA
Espen, an average fourteen year old boy who loves to play soccer and go scouting and skiing, finds himself as a spy for the Norwegian Resistance. Espen starts out thinking that delivering underground newspapers is just an exciting adventure until the Norwegian Quisling Police working with the Gestapo come to his house looking for his scout uniform. Espen grows throughout the five year Nazi occupation as a valuable spy. Throughout the years Espen gains and losses friends as a result of the Nazi occupation. He finally knows it is time to take all his information from his last dangerous mission and leave the country. One small mistake could jeopardize everything. Espen has grown to be so valuable to the Resistance that if he were caught by the Nazi's he would have to be shot by one of his own guides rather than allow the Nazi's to interrogate him. Espen is based on the real life spy for the Norwegian Resistance, Erling Storrusten. Many of the adventures and dangers that Espen faced were the same that Erling had confronted. The book includes a bonus for codebreakers and photographs. It is full of adventure, excitement and best of all history.
Recommended by: Anna Pelio LMS, New York USA