Reviews for Shadow on the Mountain


Booklist Reviews 2012 September #1
Norway, 1940: Nazi Germany invades the neutral nation under the guise of "protecting" them from British and Russian forces. But in short order, hundreds of teachers are arrested and loyalty to the Nazis is demanded from all. Espen, 14, longs to join the underground struggle, indulging in spy fantasies and reveling in the minor insurrections of his countrymen. Soon his wish comes true: he becomes a courier sent on various "errands," delivering food, secret documents, guns, illegal radio parts, and more to those in hiding. Loosely based on one boy's true adventures (detailed in the wonderful back matter), this is an underreported bit of history, wherein Norwegians were held up as a model of the Aryan ideal--a mostly unwelcome comparison. Preus (Heart of a Samurai, 2010) constructs her story as a battle of wits between Espen and Askel, a former soccer teammate who joins the Wehrmacht, but it's Espen's simple courage that makes this an engaging read: "Espen wished he were more brave. But since he wasn't, he would have to pretend to be." Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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BookPage Reviews 2012 September
A real boy's Resistance

Margi Preus, who won a Newbery honor for Heart of a Samurai, returns with another riveting work of historical fiction. Shadow on the Mountain tells the story of the Nazi occupation of Norway through the experiences of a boy named Espen and his younger sister, Ingrid.

The story begins in 1940, when 14-year-old Espen begins taking tentative steps to help the resistance. Espen has no doubts whatsoever where his allegiance lies, but he finds that some of his friends and classmates think differently. Why is his best friend Kjell riding in a car with soldiers? And how far will his soccer teammate Aksel go to please the occupying soldiers?

Shadow on the Mountain covers nearly five years in Espen’s life, as he takes on increasingly dangerous assignments. Preus captures the tension, fear and determination of Espen and Ingrid, and recounts the changes that take place as normal life disappears.

This fine novel, which includes an author’s note, a timeline, a bibliography and even a recipe for invisible ink, is based on extensive research. Preus had the opportunity to interview Erling Storrusten, who was a teenager in the town of Lillehammer during the Occupation, and many of the incidents are based on his experiences. The result is an authentic coming-of-age story, perfect for readers fascinated by the diary of Anne Frank or Lois Lowry’s classic, Number the Stars.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
This historical adventure novel is based on the experiences of a real boy who spied for the Resistance during the Nazi occupation of Norway. Readers will get an authentic picture of everyday life in WWII Norway, but Preus meticulously keeps the focus on Espen and his peers. The final chapters take the book into adventure-thriller territory without losing the humanity that characterizes Preus's account. A pronunciation guide and photos of "the real Espen" are included. Timeline. Bib.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #6
Preus (Heart of a Samurai, rev. 9/10) bases her latest historical adventure novel on the experiences of a real boy who spied for the Resistance during the Nazi occupation of Norway. "Ever since the Germans had invaded, Espen had felt as if the whole world had gotten off-kilter. Tipped wrong...He would do anything -- anything! -- to set the world right again." Fourteen in 1940, Espen does his best, first delivering underground newspapers, then couriering messages for Resistance agents, and finally, by 1945, becoming an agent himself, charged with the mapping of a crucial Nazi compound. Readers will get an authentic picture of everyday life in WWII Norway, but Preus meticulously keeps the focus on Espen and his peers. So there is drama surrounding his soccer team; a friendly "best stupid-Nazi joke" competition between Espen and his sister; a crush on a girl he is too shy to approach. Through secondary characters (particularly golden-boy Kjell, Espen's former best friend; and imperious, unpopular Aksel), Preus explores the reasons behind some young Norwegians' defection to the Nazis: a love of power and authority; latent anti-Semitism; retribution for perceived slights. The final chapters, which chronicle Espen's dramatic escape to Sweden -- days and nights of mountain skiing, Nazis in hot pursuit -- take the book into adventure-thriller territory without losing the humanity that characterizes Preus's account. With a map, pronunciation guide, author's note, timeline, bibliography, and photos of "the real Espen." martha v. parravano Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 August #2
A teenage boy becomes a spy in Nazi-occupied Norway. After the Germans invade his country in 1940, Espen goes from a life of school, Scouts and soccer games to delivering underground newspapers. Gradually, he advances to transporting secret documents via bicycle or skis and spying on Gestapo locations for the intelligence branch of the Resistance. Along the way, he navigates relationships with a beloved best friend who has joined the Nazis, his younger sister and peers who share his passion for opposition, as well as a budding romance with Solveig, who wears a red stocking hat signaling displeasure with the new regime. Newbery Honor winner Preus (Heart of a Samurai, 2010) infuses the story with the good-natured humor of a largely unified, peace-loving people trying to keep their sanity in a world gone awry. Based on a true story, the narrative is woven with lively enough daily historical detail to inspire older middle-grade readers to want to learn more about the Resistance movement and imitate Espen's adventures. A selectively omniscient narrator moves from sister Ingrid's diaries to the inner thoughts of Espen's nemesis, Aksel. Preus also incorporates a Norse myth about Odin to shed light on what it means to be wise, the possibility of knowing too much and how to resist shadowing the mountain of hope. A morally satisfying page turner. (author's note, archival photographs, maps, timeline, selected bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Media Connection Reviews 2013 March/April
Fourteen-year-old Espen worked in the Resistance Movement in Norway as a courier. Life in Norway had changed dramatically since the Germans invaded in the spring of 1940. Espen's closest friend, Kjell, became a Nazi sympathizer. When Aksel, a bully, joins the Nazis, he targets Espen. The book covers the five years of Nazi occupation, and is based on the true story of Erling Storrusten. As readers understand the risks that Espen took, they will want to learn more about this period. That Espen escaped to Sweden by traveling at night on skis with five different guides should intrigue them. The story is told from several perspectives, which may be confusing to some readers. A pronunciation guide, archival photographs, maps, an author's note, directions on codes and how to break them, a timeline, selected bibliography, and additional books for interested readers are included. Tracy A Fitzwater, Librarian, Crescent School District, Joyce, Washington [Editor's Note: Available in e-book form t.] RECOMMENDED Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #4

Newbery Honor winner Preus (Heart of a Samurai) delivers a riveting story about teenage freedom fighters in WWII Norway. Espen and the other members of his soccer team hope to continue to enjoy the game they love following the Nazi invasion, but both Espen's teammates and rivals are soon pulled into the resistance movement as rations are cut and their families assaulted. Espen is drafted to be a courier for the resistance, while his younger sister, Ingrid, starts sneaking ration cards to starving Norwegians. Preus ably develops a large cast of characters, rendering them with persuasive vulnerabilities and showing how each is transformed by the war. Espen's skiing missions for the resistance combine the thrilling aspects of an outdoor adventure story with political peril and the threat of violence. An author's note with photographs of the real-life inspiration for Espen, Erling Storrusten (as well as appendices on code breaking and invisible ink), bring the truth behind the powerful story into startling focus. Ages 10â??14. Agent: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. (Sept.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

Newbery Honor winner Preus (Heart of a Samurai) delivers a riveting story about teenage freedom fighters in WWII Norway. Espen and the other members of his soccer team hope to continue to enjoy the game they love following the Nazi invasion, but both Espen's teammates and rivals are soon pulled into the resistance movement as rations are cut and their families assaulted. Espen is drafted to be a courier for the resistance, while his younger sister, Ingrid, starts sneaking ration cards to starving Norwegians. Preus ably develops a large cast of characters, rendering them with persuasive vulnerabilities and showing how each is transformed by the war. Espen's skiing missions for the resistance combine the thrilling aspects of an outdoor adventure story with political peril and the threat of violence. An author's note with photographs of the real-life inspiration for Espen, Erling Storrusten (as well as appendices on code breaking and invisible ink), bring the truth behind the powerful story into startling focus. Ages 10â??14. Agent: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. (Sept.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 October

Gr 6-9--This engrossing offering sheds light on the Norwegians' courage during World War II. Preus masterfully weds a story of friendship with the complications faced by 14-year-old Espen and his friends as Nazi restrictions and atrocities become part of their everyday lives. Espen not only has to deal with the political turmoil, but also with discovering that his best friend has joined the German cause, which Espen is committed to work against. Even his young sister, Ingrid, joins the resistance when she gets a bit older. Norway's hazardous topography adds to the adventure as Espen must ski across dangerous mountain passes in order to carry out his secret missions. This is at once a spy thriller, a coming-of-age story, and a chronicle of escalating bravery. Multidimensional characters fill this gripping tale that keeps readers riveted to the end. An informative author's note explains that Espen was inspired by Erling Storrusten, who, as a teenager, helped in the resistance movement. A "Bonus for Code Breakers" and instructions for making invisible ink are appealing additions. Preus aptly celebrates the determination of ordinary citizens in this book. Similar truths are told in Mal Peet's Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passions and Betrayal (Candlewick, 2008) and Kathy Kacer's Night Spies (Tandem, 2003).--Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ

[Page 148]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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VOYA Reviews 2012 October
When Nazi Germany invades Norway in 1940, the Norwegian people do not give in easily, nor do they give up hope. Espen, in many ways an average teenager, becomes part of the resistance, willing to risk his freedom and his life to combat the Nazis. Based on the true story of a young Norwegian resistance fighter and his peers, Preus has crafted an engaging spy story with likeable characters and an intriguing setting. Because the author borrows a number of historically true events, the narrative both expands and compresses depending on the timeline and action, sometimes losing a bit of the flow that otherwise works well. Espen is clearly an ordinary boy moved to take extraordinary action, and is thoughtful as he watches his best friend and an adversary do the same for the Nazi regime. Preus does not vilify the characters or their choices; her compassionate approach prevents any of the characters from becoming stock caricatures and provides opportunity for consideration and discussion. Where the novel works best is as an examination of the many ways a nation of people engaged in small acts of resistance, waiting out the occupation with courage and resiliency. This is a strong choice for historical fiction and spy story fans, as well as for genre reading assignments.--Vikki Terrile Photos. 4Q 3P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

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