The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Philip Hoose

Published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers 

Summary:  When Germany invaded Denmark in April 1940, fourteen-year-old Knud Pedersen and his fifteen-year-old brother Jens were appalled by how quickly the Danish government capitulated.  There was no Danish resistance, while in neighboring Norway, thousands of people fought the Nazis.  Knud and Jens organized some of their school friends into the RAF Club, inspired by the British pilots who were fighting the Germans.  The boys used their bicycles to commit acts of sabotage, such as turning signs around and cutting phone wires.  When the Pedersen family moved the following year, the boys found new recruits, this time calling themselves the Churchill Club.  The club’s activities grew more serious and bold, focusing on amassing a cache of weapons stolen from German soldiers.  A year later, the boys were caught and sent to prison.  But their actions had inspired a nation, and the Danish resistance was born.  An epilogue tells what happened to all the boys; a lengthy bibliography and notes section encourages more reading.  Ages 11 and up.

Pros:  A powerful and inspiring story of heroic boys who squeezed their acts of sabotage in with studying for junior high exams.  Told alternately in the third person and the first person voice of Knud Petersen, and illustrated with many photos.

Cons:  None of the boys escaped unscathed.  While all survived the war, many had lifelong difficulties stemming from the stress of their activities and jail time.

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