Book Review: “The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and The Churchill Club” by Phillip Hoose

IMG_54634 out of 5 Stars

Our school was having a book fair in the spring and I like to shop them not only for our class and for my son, but on occasion there are things I want to learn about or read. I came across a biography called “The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and The Churchill Club” by Phillip Hoose and was intrigued. I have spent a good deal of my life learning the German language which included learning a great deal of German history. Naturally this included extensive research and learning about WWI and WWII. I have generally learned about this history through the eyes of Americans, English or French, but we seldom learn about the Scandinavian countries and their contributions during the war. This opens an incredible window into what Denmark experienced.

Denmark was left alone for the most part until 1940. Germany was concentrating it’s actions toward other frontiers, but eventually wanted to expand north for better access to the sea and a very large port. They threatened Denmark with extreme measures and told the king and the government if they just let the Nazis in that their citizens would be protected and they wouldn’t be bombed. This lead to the Germans taking over everything and changed the life the Danes quite dramatically. While the Government thought they were protecting their people, their lives were about to change in very drastic ways.

FullSizeRender (33)A group of boys who were in school together were very upset by the fact that Denmark didn’t fight to keep it’s independence and that the government had just given up. They were listening to the news reports about England and Norway fighting to the death to keep the Germans at bay and were ashamed of their country. They decided to take action. They started off by stealing the soldiers weapons in midnight runs. They worked to sabotage the soldiers vehicles and artillery. The Pedersen brothers ended up moving with their family to another city and started work there, leaving their previous group to continue the work in a sister city. They called themselves the “Churchill Club” because they were so inspired by Winston Churchill and his radio broadcasts.

FullSizeRender (32)News of all of their work eventually made its way to Hitler and his commanders. The soldiers started searching for these boys and they were eventually caught. They were held in the prisons and for WWII were treated pretty well all things considered. There were plenty of adventures there and fear that they would be executed. Their efforts eventually aided in getting the Germans out of their country. After the war they flew to England where they got to meet Mr. Churchill and were commended.

This story was inspiring and amazing. I loved learning about another perspective of the war – one I had not been aware of before. I loved seeing all of the pictures from the time and of the boys who lead the resistance. Thinking about these guys being 11-18 years old and taking this kind of action was incredible. I have a son who is nearly 10 and I can not imagine him joining up with friends and taking this kind of risk. It was a different world back then though, and we have not had to face such situations.

The book is going to be great for kids who are grades 4 and up. There isn’t anything in the book that is graphic, but understanding what the war was about and what was going on might work better for minds that are better able to comprehend the situation. My son hasn’t read it yet, but ¬†knowing him he would get it just fine. There isn’t anything particularly challenging about the book other than the idea of this horrible war. It is a short book as well at 175 pages with plenty of photographs. The chapters are short as well, so kids who might struggle with big books will be able to nibble at smaller chunks just fine.

I highly recommend this book for both adults and kids!

Here is the book trailer for your viewing pleasure.

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