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The Boys Who Challenged Hitler
Cover of The Boys Who Challenged Hitler
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler
Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club
At the outset of World War II, Denmark did not resist German occupation. Deeply ashamed of his nation's leaders, fifteen-year-old Knud Pedersen resolved with his brother and a handful of schoolmates to...
At the outset of World War II, Denmark did not resist German occupation. Deeply ashamed of his nation's leaders, fifteen-year-old Knud Pedersen resolved with his brother and a handful of schoolmates to...
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  • At the outset of World War II, Denmark did not resist German occupation. Deeply ashamed of his nation's leaders, fifteen-year-old Knud Pedersen resolved with his brother and a handful of schoolmates to take action against the Nazis if the adults would not. Naming their secret club after the fiery British leader, the young patriots in the Churchill Club committed countless acts of sabotage, infuriating the Germans, who eventually had the boys tracked down and arrested. But their efforts were not in vain: the boys' exploits and eventual imprisonment helped spark a full-blown Danish resistance. Interweaving his own narrative with the recollections of Knud himself, here is Phillip Hoose's inspiring story of these young war heroes.

About the Author-

  • Phillip Hoose is an award-winning author of books, essays, stories, songs and articles. Although he first wrote for adults, he turned his attention to children and young adults in part to keep up with his own daughters. His book Claudette Colvin won a National Book Award and was dubbed a Publisher's Weekly Best Book of 2009. He is also the author of Hey, Little Ant, co-authored by his daughter, Hannah; It's Our World, Too!; The Race to Save the Lord God Bird; The Boys Who Challenged Hitler; and We Were There, Too!, a National Book Award finalist. He has received a Jane Addams Children's Book Award, a Christopher Award, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and multiple Robert F. Sibert Honor Awards, among numerous honors. He was born in South Bend, Indiana, and grew up in the towns of South Bend, Angola, and Speedway, Indiana. He was educated at Indiana University and the Yale School of Forestry. He lives in Portland, Maine.

Reviews-

  • DOGO Books sherkismyfather - This book was funny when he got in jail and was like i don't care
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 16, 2015
    Hoose (Moonbird) vividly recounts the true story of the courageous and brazen teens who inspired the Danish resistance movement in WWII. Angered and embarrassed by his nation’s lack of opposition to the German invasion, 15-year-old Knud Pedersen, his older brother, and a few classmates formed the secret Churchill Club (named for the British prime minister they admired). For five months in 1942, club members committed daring acts of sabotage, often from their bikes and mostly in broad daylight (“Arson became our game. We took to carrying a small quantity of petrol with us... stuffing the canister in a school bag ”). Hoose’s narrative alternates with Pedersen’s verbatim recollections (taken from a weeklong interview with him in 2012). Though readers initially may have trouble knowing when Pedersen’s quotations end and the author’s segues begin, this gripping story quickly gathers momentum, and the shifts between narrators flow smoothly. Archival photos break up the text, while an epilogue details what happened to each young resister after his imprisonment and the war’s end. A bibliography and source notes conclude this inspiring account. Ages 12–18.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from April 1, 2015
    A handful of Danish teens takes on the occupying Nazis is this inspiring true story of courageous resistance. Unlike Norway, which was also invaded on April 9, 1940, the Danish government did little to resist German occupation. Some teenagers, like 15-year-old Knud Pedersen, were ashamed of their nation's leaders and the adult citizens who passively accepted and even collaborated with the occupiers. With his older brother and a handful of schoolmates, Knud resolved to take action. Naming themselves the Churchill Club in honor of the fiery British prime minister, the young patriots began their resistance efforts with vandalism and quickly graduated to countless acts of sabotage. Despite the lack of formal organization and planning, this small band of teenagers managed to collect an impressive cache of weapons and execute raids that would impress professionally trained commandos. The Churchill Club was eventually captured and imprisoned by the Germans, but their heroic exploits helped spark a nationwide resistance movement. As he did in Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (2009), Hoose tells this largely unknown story with passion and clarity, providing exactly the right background information to contextualize events for readers. He makes excellent use of his extensive interviews with Pedersen, quoting him at length and expertly interweaving his words into the narrative to bring it alive. A superbly told, remarkable true story and an excellent addition to stories of civilian resistance in World War II. (photos, bibliography, chapter notes) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from May 1, 2015

    Gr 9 Up-In April 1940, occupying German forces made Denmark a "protectorate" of the Third Reich. The Danish government accepted the occupation, but a small group of teen boys, angry at their nation's cowardice, formed the secret Churchill Club to resist the Germans and conducted a six-month spree of sabotage and destruction. Incorporating lengthy first-person reminiscences of one of the group's leaders, Knud Pedersen, Hoose describes how the club recruited members, exploited their youth and innocent looks to deceive their parents and the Germans, appropriated weapons, and carried out guerilla-style attacks from their bicycles. Although the boys were eventually arrested and imprisoned, their exploits made them national heroes, shamed many adults, and fueled Danish resistance. After the war, Winston Churchill honored their efforts. The book is well organized, effectively integrating Pedersen's vivid descriptions of his group's motives, determination, and sometimes foolhardy bravery within the larger narrative, which includes information about Denmark, the war, and the boys' families and lives. Sidebars, detailed maps, and period photos supplement the text. Often reading like a thriller, this title puts a human face on the often-overlooked Danish Resistance and complements titles such as Michael Burgan's Refusing to Crumble: The Danish Resistance in World War II (Compass Pt., 2010) and Ellen Levine's Darkness over Denmark: The Danish Resistance and the Rescue of the Jews (Holiday House, 2000). VERDICT A captivating work that will appeal to many readers.-Mary Mueller, Rolla Public Schools, MO

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from April 15, 2015
    Grades 7-10 *Starred Review* When the Germans threatened to invade Denmark, the Danes capitulated with only token resistance on April 9, 1940, becoming an occupied country. This infuriated 15- and 16-year-old brothers Knud and Jens Pedersen, who formed a group of saboteurs and began cutting German telephone wires and defacing and reorienting directional signs. Just as they were making their presence felt, their family was relocated from Odense to Aalborg, where the two teens started a new group, called The Churchill Club in honor of the legendary British prime minister. Their story is one of bravery in the face of constant danger and of increasingly meaningful acts of sabotage, including stealing weapons and destroying important German assets. How long, the reader wonders, will they be able to elude capture? That question and others are answered in this tale of remarkable bravery and determination. Told in both the author's voice and that of Knud Pedersen himself (the latter culled from 25 hours of interviews and almost 1,000 e-mail exchanges), this has a compelling immediacy that is enhanced by a generous collection of black-and-white period photographs. An important and unforgettable book that adds a significant chapter to the history of WWII.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

  • The New York Times Book Review

    "Much of the story is told in Pedersen's own words, taken from interviews and a memoir. There is a striking immediacy to the telling. An adult can only admire the intoxicating, foolhardy brashness of the young as they slipped pistols out of Nazis' coat pockets or taught themselves about mortar grenades by disassembling one on the floor of an old monastery."

  • Publishers Weekly "Hoose (Moonbird) vividly recounts the true story of the courageous and brazen teens who inspired the Danish resistance movement in WWII."
  • Kirkus Reviews "A superbly told, remarkable true story and an excellent addition to stories of civilian resistance in World War II."
  • Christian Science Monitor

    ""A rousing real-life adventure tale."

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The Boys Who Challenged Hitler
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Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club
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