This middle-grade novel begins on the day the Germans invade Denmark, in April 1940. Ten-year-old Bamse, the youngest son of an actress and an artist, has grown up surrounded by theater people; his mother’s response to the German’s arrival in Copenhagen is “we must change at once.” Bamse and his best friend, Anton, a Jew, amuse themselves playing tricks on the German soldiers. The situation quickly becomes more serious when his older brother, Orlando, joins the resistance and is increasingly involved in more dangerous activities. Bamse’s father, on the other hand, remains cautious of getting involved. One year after the Germans invade, the British refer to the Danes as “Hitler’s Canary,” implying that they will “sing any tune he wants.” But as the war in Europe escalates, Bamse and his family learn that passive resistance is no longer an option. This inspiring story of an ordinary Danish family rallying together to save the lives of Danish Jews is based on the author’s father’s experience during the war, and in her novel, Sandi Toksvig brings to life a cast of captivating characters that will remain with the reader long after the final chapter. She expertly balances the seriousness of the situation with humor and adventure, as she depicts the war through the eyes of a remarkably brave boy. Ages 10 – 14.
Alison Kelly holds a B.A. in American History from Northwestern University and an MLS from UCLA. She is a librarian at Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School.