Where History Comes Alive!

Book Reviews

January 16, 2015
Snow TreasureSnow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a delightful as well as an interesting historical read. The invasion of Norway by Nazi troops is not a story well-known, at least by Americans. We found this glimpse into a lesser known facet of the Second World War to be fascinating.

Young Peter Lundstrom and his friends are not especially worried about the war coming to Norway - until Peter's uncle comes home early from fishing and begins to organize construction of air-raid shelters. More importantly to Peter, his father, a bank employee, wants Peter and his friends to help the adults with a thrilling adventure: the Norwegians must keep the country's treasury out of the hands of the Nazis! Peter and his school friends must follow to the letter the instructions given by the men, and keep their courage up in the face of the dreaded Nazi invasion. Only schoolchildren can pass under the radar of the Germans unobserved. So the children go out to sled every day - with a final total of 9 million dollars on their sleds!

But there are difficulties.
Nosy German soldiers.
Thawing April weather.
The fear of Uncle Victor being discovered and arrested, wherever he is hiding, before all of the gold can be loaded onto his boat.
The fear of one or all of the children being taken prisoner themselves.
And the children themselves - can they keep it up, under the strain of time, weight and worry?

The book is not a perfect literary gem, but the writing is compelling and amusing; and while easy for the younger ones to understand, still makes a great read for an adult interested in World War II.
Based on a true account told by a Norwegian captain who brought 9 millions dollars in gold bullion to an American port. Since the book was actually written during the war, some facts naturally had to be altered for the safety of those involved.

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Enemy Brothers (Living History Library)Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that you never want to end!

It's a war story.
It's a love story.
It's about two countries, two brothers, and a brotherly love that will never let go.

Flying Officer George Dymory Ingleford is a man with a mission. Since his baby brother Anthony was kidnapped at 18 months old, young 'Dym' has never given up his hope or his search. Now an officer in the RAF, he can no longer take his search into war-torn Germany where he believes Tony, who would now be 12 years old, to have been taken.
But unexpected circumstances bring Max Eckermann into England, instead, where Dym identifies him as his lost little brother and takes him home.
Max is a 'thorough-going little Nazi', in the words of Dym's brother, Ginger Ingleford. Max is by no means convinced that he is the lost Ingleford boy, and demands to be returned to his beloved Germany - impossible in the tangle of war. So he undertakes to disturb the Ingleford household, attempt regular escapes, and hate Dym with all of his heart...or so he thinks. The Inglefords all love and accept him without question - but it is Dym who he knows he can never escape...Dym, with the steely hands that will never let him go. But he will never, never, never believe that he is Anthony Ingleford.

This story is unmatched for unforgettable characters, beautiful imagery, and heart. Written during World War II, and before it's conclusion, it gives you a picture of wartime Britain that makes you feel like you have visited time and place. You feel the courage and acceptance of the people in the most difficult circumstances, the steadfastness of weary men and women carrying on. You meet the young men of the RAF, 'The cream of the youth of England', who - outgunned, undermanned and exhausted - continue the fight.
From the lively, fun-loving Ingleford family to Dym's RAF friends to the very passengers in the trains, the characters in this book are believable, life-like, and worthy of emulation. It is written in a style that draws you in and makes you wish you could meet them all in person. And the ending is complete satisfaction, leaving you with no doubts, no fears, and the strongest desire for just one more chapter.

We read this book, laughed, cried...
And went back to page one.
So will you.

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The Reb and the RedcoatsThe Reb and the Redcoats by Constance Savery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We really enjoyed this book by an already favorite author. While not as action packed as her 'Enemy Brothers'(highly recommended!), we found this book very entertaining, and an excellant look at the American Revolution from the British side.
The whole storyline begins with the arrival of a 'captured' American doll in a British household. Enthralled by the toy's lifelike clay features, the eldest daughter of the family adopts it into her family of English dolls. But what about the Face in the Window? Why is it so familiar?
The plot thickens when the children must move with their mother to Uncle Laurence's house, where he has been given unwilling custody of a Rebel prisoner. The children want terribly to meet 'The Reb', but their uncle is adamant. How can they learn to know him...and win the prize Uncle Laurence offers to anyone who can discover his name? And what happened to their jolly young uncle in the war to change him so completely?

The story is entertaining and believable; the children are cute without being 'too cute' and no sassy or modern behavior. The treatment of the Rebel as a prisoner is dealt with frankly, but not with a harshness that would bother young or sensitive children. Although the author writes from an obviously British point of view, both sides are given a generous impartiality. Well done!

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Magic in My ShoesMagic in My Shoes by Constance Savery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sally is excited to be visiting dear Aunt Persis in a new home in the country. But dear Aunt Persis has a problem.
The local authorities have decided to place an orphan in her home - one of a set of ten year old triplet boys!
Sally finds Josset a fun and hearty companion. But soon things begin to happen that seem rather mysterious. This Josset is certainly a many faceted little boy - as the schoolmaster says, "There is something of the human butterfly about him"!

We love Constance Savery and her books, and she does not disappoint in this delightful little tale. Her British humor twinkles on every page, and she manages to make her mystery enjoyable for both the grown-up who sees through it, and the child who remains amused but puzzled until the last chapter - and we know, because we have both in the house!

We would encourage anyone to purchase this book, and enjoy a joyous romp in Sally's shoes!

*Note: despite the title, there is no magic; it has a clear Christian background without being 'preachy'.

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Pollyanna Grows Up (Pollyanna #2)Pollyanna Grows Up by Eleanor H. Porter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We read the sequels to 'Five Little Peppers'.
We read the sequel to 'Heidi'.
None of them really grew up.
But Pollyanna does!

The book begins with Pollyanna still a little girl, but able to "Walk, Walk, Walk!" She manages to spread her cheer to a lonely woman mourning the loss of a beloved nephew before she really 'grows up', appearing in chapter 16 as a twenty-year-old young woman - really.

Now the fun begins. Remember Jimmy Bean? Well, he's grown up too, and is the pride and joy of his adopted father John Pendleton. Even though trouble has come to Pollyanna and her aunt, causing Aunt Polly to become once again much too grim and unhappy, Pollyanna, Jimmy and some visiting friends manage to keep things upbeat and lively after all.

That's the basic outline. Inbetween comes two mysteries and enough romance to satisfy the most romantic of us all. We can't tell, but more than one couple makes a match in this book!

But for us, the best part of this book is still...
Pollyanna REALLY grows up!

"There, what did I tell you?" says Pollyanna to Jimmy Bean - and to us, it seems. "Even you were worried, it seems, lest I should be at twenty just what I was at ten!"

You're right, Pollyanna. You're not!

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