Saturday, June 27, 2015

483 (2015 #40). The Boys Who Challenged Hitler

by  Phillip Hoose,
read by the author and Michael Braun

This is the true story of the book's subtitle, Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club.  Pedersen founded the group, consisting of himself and seven other teenage boys, to perform acts of sabotage against the Germans occupying Denmark in World War II.

The story is told primarily through Pedersen's words.  National Book Award winner Phillip Hoose worked with Pedersen in 2012 to create an English version of his story, little-known outside Denmark.  Hoose conducted 25 hours of face-to-face interviews and exchanged nearly 1,000 e-mails with Pedersen.

The narrative is exciting and should hold the interest of the target teen audience, especially boys.  The book can definitely be used in history classes on World War II (there's a teacher's guide from the publisher on the author's web site), and could also spark some interesting discussions on courage, on the morality of sabotage in wartime, and on taking risks and keeping secrets.

In the audiobook, actor and voice artist Michael Braun reads Pedersen's words, while author Phillip Hoose reads everything else that's in the audio version - including sidebars, which can be a bit distracting if the listener doesn't realize they are sidebars, since you can't see the graphic elements that separate them from the main text.  Hoose is adequate as a reader of his own work (not outstanding like Neil Gaiman, but not awful like Madeleine L'Engle), while Braun is a bit melodramatic - but also epitomizes the defiant nature of Pedersen's character.

I think this audiobook is best paired with a print (preferred to electronic) version of the book.  The print version has features not available in audio format, such as photographs, maps, and other illustrations (which are not done especially well in the e-book), as well as a bibliography, end notes (both also present with active links in the e-book) and index (useless in the e-book as there are no page numbers or links).  However, the audio version would enhance understanding for any struggling readers in the targeted high school age group.

© Amanda Pape - 2015

[This audiobook was received from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review.  It will be donated to my university library.]

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