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Postcards from No Man's Landby Aidan Chambers
2003 Michael L. Printz Award Winner
Synopses & Reviews
By turns playful and wrenching, thrilling and meditative, this extraordinary novel, told in dual narratives, takes the reader on a memorable voyage of discovery - the discovery of family secrets, of sex, of art, and of oneself in a foreign city or in the midst of war.
Seventeen-year-old backpacker Jacob Todd has come to Amsterdam to honor his grandfather, a soldier who died in a nearby town in World War II. He isn't ready for the seductive assault the city launches on his senses. A stranger flirts with him in a café leaving him with this prophetic scribbled message: Nothing in Amsterdam is what it appears to be. In 1944, teenage Geertrui, living in occupied Holland, meets another Jacob Todd, an English soldier who must hide with her family after his battalion pulls out. In the midst of terrible danger, the two become lovers, linking their families in a way that resonates in the present.
"The type of teenage fiction that should be cherished." The Independent
"Sophisticated teenage readers yearning for a wider view of life may find themselves intoxicated by this Carnegie Medal-winning novel....No tidy endings here - the concluding scenes present Jacob with a complicated moral dilemma that remains unresolved. The implied challenges of the future make the final pages all the more satisfying." Publishers Weekly
"This novel is beautifully written, emotionally touching, and intellectually challenging." Voya
"A superbly crafted, intensely moving novel." Sunday Telegraph
"Chambers weaves together past and present with enough plot, characters, and ideas for several YA books, but he does it with such mastery that all the pieces finally come together, with compelling discoveries about love, courage, family, and sexual identity. Common to all the stories is the heroism of ordinary people. Jacob finds no neat answers, just a sense of the rich and painful confusion of what it means to be human." Booklist, starred review
Shadow on the Mountain recounts the adventures of a 14-year-old Norwegian boy named Espen during World War II. After Nazi Germany invades and occupies Norway, Espen and his friends are swept up in the Norwegian resistance movement. Espen gets his start by delivering illegal newspapers, then graduates to the role of courier and finally becomes a spy, dodging the Gestapo along the way. During five years under the Nazi regime, he gainsand#151;and losesand#151;friends, falls in love, and makes one small mistake that threatens to catch up with him as he sets out to escape on skis over the mountains to Sweden.
Preus incorporates archival photographs, maps, and other images to tell this story based on the real-life adventures of Norwegian Erling Storrusten, whom Preus interviewed in Norway.
Praise for Shadow on the Mountain
"Newbery Honor winner Preus 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 Espenand#8217;s adventures."
and#151;Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"This engrossing offering sheds light on the Norwegiansand#8217; 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...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."
and#151;School Library Journal, starred review
"A closely researched historical novel... relates this wartime tale with intelligence and humor...Ms. Preus deftly uses together historical fact (Espen is based on a real-life spy) and elements of Norwegian culture to conjure a time and place not so terribly long ago."
and#151;The Wall Street Journal
"Margi Preus, who won a Newbery honor for Heart of a Samurai, returns with another riveting work of historical fiction... This fine novel, which includes an authorand#8217;s note, a timeline, a bibliography and even a recipe for invisible ink, is based on extensive research... The result is an authentic coming-of-age story, perfect for readers fascinated by the diary of Anne Frank or Lois Lowryand#8217;s classic, Number the Stars."
"The final chapters, which chronicle Espenand#8217;s dramatic escape to Swedenand#151;days and nights of mountain skiing, Nazis in hot pursuitand#151;take the book into adventure-thriller territory without losing the humanity that characterizes Preusand#8217;s account."
and#151;The Horn Book Magazine
"Preus makes crystal clear the life imperiling risks that Espen undertakes and the danger to his family."
and#151;The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"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.and#8221;
and#151;Library Media Connection
VOYA Top Shelf for Middle School Readers 2012 list
2013 Notable Books for a Global Society
Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award
Seventeen-year-old Jacob Todd is about to discover himself. Jacob's plan is to go to Amsterdam to honor his grandfather who died during World War II. He expects to go, set flowers on his grandfather's tombstone, and explore the city. But nothing goes as planned. Jacob isn't prepared for love&150or to face questions about his sexuality. Most of all, he isn't prepared to hear what Geertrui, the woman who nursed his grandfather during the war, has to say about their relationship. Geertrui was always known as Jacob's grandfather's kind and generous nurse. But it seems that in the midst of terrible danger, Geertrui and Jacob's grandfather's time together blossomed into something more than a girl caring for a wounded soldier. And like Jacob, Geertrui was not prepared. Geertrui and Jacob live worlds apart, but their voices blend together to tell one story&150a story that transcends time and place and war. By turns moving, vulnerable, and thrilling, this extraordinary novel takes the reader on a memorable voyage of discovery.
About the Author
Aidan Chambers is an author of novels and plays. Born in the north of England, he worked as a high school teacher for eleven years, during which time he was also a monk for seven years, before he left both teaching and the monastery to establish himself as a full-time author. He has written for many newspapers and journals as well as television and radio, and is well known as a writer and lecturer on the nature and value of reading and literature. In 1969 he and his American wife Nancy founded Thimble Press, which publishes books about children's literature and the magazine 'SIGNAL: Approaches to Children's Books', internationally recognized as one of the most important in its field. His books are published in many languages. Among other prizes, his novel Postcards From No Man's Land was honored with the Carnegie Medal, Britain's most prestigious recognition for children's and youth literature, and the Italian Andersen Award. He is also the recipient of The Children's Literature Association Award for excellence in literary criticism, and the British Eleanor Farjeon Award for outstanding services to children's books. He is currently writing the sixth and last of his youth novels which make a family Sequence, a body of work he describes on the BOOKS page of his Web site.
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