Do you have a favorite children's book, one that has always stayed with you? Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan is a favorite of three generations in my family. I just reread if for the oddest reason. I'm doing a brown bag lunch in a couple weeks. The topic is "The World at War", and I'm featuring books about World War I and World War II. And, I have to say, Snow Treasure remains one of my favorite novels about World War II.
When I was a kid, the edition I read said Snow Treasure was based on a true story. The current edition says, "For many years the story was believed true. But over 60 years later, there is no proof that it ever really happened." I don't care. In my heart and mind, this remains a story of the strength and courage of the Norwegian people, even the children, in the face of the Nazis. It will always be one of my favorite books.
In April 1940, the Norwegian people knew it wouldn't be long, and they might be invaded by the Germans. So, the people of the town of Riswyk devised an audacious plan. They had thirteen tons of gold worth nine million dollars. They weren't going to allow the Nazis to capture it. Instead, they formed teams of children, and sent them out to play on their sleds. On each sled, they tied gold bricks, and sent the children down toward the fjord to bury the gold in the snow until the sailors on Victor Lundstrom's fishing ship, the Cleng Peerson, could load it on the ship.
As a child, it was wonderful and terrifying to read this book. At twelve, Peter Lundstrom, Victor's nephew, is put in charge of all the teams of children. As you read about the determined children, who refused to speak to any Germans, and continued to work for the good of the their country, there's a feeling of pride that children could do this. Uncle Victor and the adults of the town may have devised the plans, but the children carried them out, having to face the Nazis on a daily basis.
Whether or not the story is true, I'd recommend it to any young reader as an adventure story filled with danger. It's inspiring to watch the children pull off their job. And, it's inspiring to witness the underground opposition to the Germans. Seventy-two years after it first came out, Marie McSwigan's Snow Treasure remains an exciting adventure story. And, I'm recommending it to a group of adults in a couple weeks.
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan. Scholastic Inc. 1942. ISBN 0-590-42537-4 (paperback), 156p.
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