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Engaging Methuen Readers


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One Minute Book Review: The Winter Fortress by Neal Bascomb

Cover image for The winter fortress : the epic mission to sabotage Hitler's atomic bombThe Winter Fortress:  the epic mission to sabotage Hitler’s atomic bomb

by Neal Bascomb   c. 2016  Non-Fiction

At the outbreak of World War II, both the Allies and Axis powers were involved in building an atomic weapon.  Bascomb, a WWII historian and former journalist, thrillingly recounts the commando effort to destroy the Norwegian Vemork hydroelectric plant that was the source of heavy water, a necessary requirement for the Nazi Germany’s atomic bomb program.

Bascomb focuses on the efforts of the Norwegian commandos and resistance fighters, who braved the threat of Gestapo torture and execution while showcasing the skiing and wilderness skills that helped them survive and operate in the arctic conditions of Norwegian winter.

This is a really well-told, suspenseful account of an aspect of WWII that is not commonly known.  I would thoroughly recommend this book to those interested in history, (WWII in particular), adventure/survival accounts, and to new non-fiction readers (like myself!).


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Review: Hidden

Hidden by Loic Dauvillier, Marc Lizano, Greg Salsedo

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Dounia’s granddaughter awakens one night to find her in the sorrow of memories. Elsa wants to make her grandmother feel better by talking about the “nightmare,” but the nightmare is 1942 Paris. Dounia decides to talk about her experience as a girl for the first time. She tells her granddaughter about being Jewish in a French school during Nazi occupation, her parents being taken from her, and being taken in by the neighbors and forced into hiding. Beautifully worded and illustrated, Dauvillier’s Hidden is poignant and subtle.

This story open up many avenues for the child reader to question and learn about what happened during the Holocaust without being graphic. The time period is difficult to portray for children’s authors and illustrators because of how terrible the atrocities were. The fact that Dauvillier managed to show just how dire Dounia’s situation was without violence is impressive. It ends on a happy note, with family connecting further through the pain of the story which needed to be told.

Age Range: 6-10 years