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Hedy Reviews “Shadow on the Mountain”

By Library Staff

First off, I’d like to alert everyone to the opportunity of meeting Margi Preus at the Bettendorf Public Library on Wednesday, October 21, 2015, at 7:00 p.m.  She will be doing a presentation highlighting her books with a Norwegian element and her own Norwegian heritage as part of the Library’s two-month-long Global Gathering Norway project.  She’ll talk about her other books too, like the Newbery Honor winner “Heart of a Samurai” and her newest out just this month “The Bamboo Sword”.

Earlier this month I led the discussion of “Shadow on the Mountain” for the German American Heritage Center book discussion group, which requires that there must be some sort of Germanic element in what they read and discuss.  The story takes place during WWII in Norway when it was occupied by the Nazis.  Preus included a pronunciation guide at the beginning and a couple of maps within the text which were much appreciated.   The antagonist is 14-year-old Espen who’s inspired to join the Resistance movement.  He starts by simply delivering illegal newspapers, but as the years go on, he becomes an actual spy, and then has to ski for his life when he is pursued by the Gestapo.  Being based on the true story of Erling Storrusten makes “Shadow on the Mountain” very compelling.  Preus makes it even more interesting by including photos, posters, and other information about Storrusten at the end of the book, as well as a 1940-1945 historical timeline, a very nice bibliography (Read On!), and even a code to break as well as a recipe for invisible ink.

I love quotations, and before each section, Preus includes a good one.  For example: 1943 “One thing is certain: Hate, revenge, and retribution are not the way. they lead us back into the abyss.”–from the diary of Odd Nansen, Norwegian activist imprisoned at Grini (Norway) and Sachsenhausen (Germany) concentration camps.

“Shadow on the Mountain” is geared for a younger audience and isn’t as graphic as some adult thriller readers are used to these days, but I liked it for its unique subject.  If you read books together with your children or grandchildren, this would be a good one.  And bring them along when you come to see Margi Preus on October 21.  Many of her books will be for sale and autographing.

The other book with Norwegian elements is “West of the Moon”.  In nineteenth-century Norway, fourteen-year-old Astri, whose aunt has sold her to a mean goatherder, dreams of joining her father in America.  She runs away and her subsequent adventures are interspersed with Norwegian fairy and folk tales.  The Library’s youth book discussion group is meeting September 19, October 13, and October 17 to discuss this book from 3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.  Registration is required and limited.  Register online at http://bit.ly/bookexplorersSepOct2015, by calling 563-344-4179, or in person at the Library.

JFIC PREU “Shadow on the Mountain” by Margi Preus, 2012, 286 pages