Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Craig Simpson
Historical Fiction
For ages 12 and up
Random House UK, 2007   ISBN: 978-0552555715

Olaf and Marek have had a successful hunting trip. They got one deer and though they were shot at by a German spotter plane neither of them sustained any injuries. When they get back to their village they discover that a great deal has been going on in their absence. Their father has been arrested by the Gestapo and has been taken to a police station in a nearby town. When the boys and their mother try to find out the reason for the arrest and when a release might be likely, the Germans refuse to give them any information.

Back in their village Olaf and Marek try to carry on as best they can. Then Olaf's girlfriend is attacked by a German officer and the brothers cannot take things any more. They put together a plan and determinedly assassinate the German officer. Knowing they cannot go home, the brothers head out for a hut in the wilderness, planning to lay low there for a while. Instead they run into a team of Resistance fighters and without really planning to they become a part of the team, contributing their skills to the team's efforts to fight against the German occupation of Norway.

At first Olaf and Marek do not know what the team is planning to do but when they "officially" agree to join the group, they are told what the team's mission is. It is a very dangerous undertaking and yet every detail is carefully planned and Marek is reasonably hopeful. Then Marek discovers that a traitor has told the Gestapo about their mission and suddenly all the plans have to change. Can the mission be salvaged? Will some of the team come out of this alive?

In this day and age it is hard for us to imagine what it must have been like to live in an occupied Europe where people of many nations were having to fight for their freedom in all kinds of clandestine and highly dangerous ways. Worse still one never knew who one could trust. One's neighbor could be the person who betrayed ones family to the enemy. Children like young Marek, who is only fourteen in this story, had to become soldiers, messengers, and spies and they grew up very fast as a result.

   This book is written with an obvious appreciation for what took place in Norway during the war. The author also has a keen understanding of how a young boy might feel as he tries to understand the events taking place around him. He is surrounded by adults who are having to kill and who are being killed, all for a cause which he does understand and yet which at the same time hurts and confuses him.