This historical book by Marie McSwigan is published by Dutton Children's Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group and is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
To keep their country's gold from the Nazis, shortly after Hitler's forces had taken over Poland, the adults of Riswyk, Norway, hid it in a cave they made from snow and ice. But once the Nazis fully occupied their land, they had to rely on the children of Riswyk to carry the gold bullion bricks on their sleds to a hidden fjord where a camouflaged boat waited to take the gold to America. This book is based on a true story.
Peter Lundstrom leads the children of Riswyk, with the help of his sister, Lovisa, and friends Helga and Michael, to transport gold bullion bricks past Nazi soldiers and sentries. To do this, their parents create four teams. Two teams make sledding runs to the fjord every day. Their struggle is not just against the Germans, but time. The spring thaw is almost on them, which means the children will no longer be able to sled. They also find creative reasons why the children's school must remain closed, so the children will have time to finish the job.
At the end of six weeks, when the children are close to finishing their task, they feel they are being watched. Jan Lasek, a Pole in a Nazi uniform, discovers what they are doing. Jan is taken to the camouflaged ship, owned by Peter's Uncle Victor. Jan begs Uncle Victor to take him to America. The Nazis robbed Jan of his passport, killed his father and destroyed Poland. He was forced to join the German army because he knew Norwegian, and they needed a translator. While Uncle Victor holds Jan, deciding whether to trust him, the Nazis begin to search for him. Soon after, the Nazis come upon the last group of children, who are delivering gold to Uncle Victor's boat. To keep the Nazis from discovering the gold or the boat, Peter throws a snowball at the Commandant. The Commandant is furious and puts him in a cell in a Nazi barrack. Before Peter can be punished for his crime, Jan rescues him. Uncle Victor, Peter and Jan go to America with the gold.
Other Belief Systems
The Nazi Germans believe they are the superior race.
When Jan tells about what the Nazis did to Poland, he mentions how his father was shot and his mother and siblings fled to Romania. When captured by the Nazis, Jan is thrown into a room and almost dies before he is forced into the infantry as a private. Peter's father leaves to fight in the Norwegian army. The Nazis invade the beach near Riswyk without a fight. When Uncle Victor and Rolls, a sailor, find Jan near Peter, they bind and gag him so he won't scare the children or tell the Germans what the children are doing.
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Readability Age Range
8 to 12
Dutton Children's Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group
Young Readers' Choice Award, 1945