The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club
by Philip Hoose
Publishing Information: New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015
Annotation: The true story of a group of boy resistance fighters in Denmark after the Nazi invasion.
Summary: At the outset of World War II, Denmark did not resist German occupation. Deeply ashamed of his nation's leaders, fifteen-year-old Knud Pedersen resolved with his brother and a handful of schoolmates to take action against the Nazis if the adults would not. Naming their secret club after the fiery British leader, the young patriots in the Churchill Club committed countless acts of sabotage, infuriating the Germans, who eventually had the boys tracked down and arrested. But their efforts were not in vain: the boys' exploits and eventual imprisonment helped spark a full-blown Danish resistance. Interweaving his own narrative with the recollections of Knud himself, here is Phil Hoose's inspiring story of these young war heroes
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjkJfhUOfAg
Pedersen, Knud, 1925-2014 -- Juvenile literature. Churchill-klubben (Ålborg, Denmark) -- History -- Juvenile literature. World War, 1939-1945 -- Underground movements -- Denmark -- Juvenile literature. Boys -- Political activity -- Denmark -- Biography -- Juvenile literature. Middle school students -- Political activity -- Denmark -- Biography -- Juvenile literature. Heroes -- Denmark -- Biography -- Juvenile literature. Sabotage -- Denmark -- History -- 20th century -- Juvenile literature. Government, Resistance to -- Denmark -- History -- 20th century -- Juvenile literature. Denmark -- History -- German occupation, 1940-1945 -- Juvenile literature. Young adult literature.
Hornbook July/Aug. 2015 Bulletin
SLJ, May 2015
Publishers Weekly, 3/16/15
Discussion Questions and Ideas:
1. Phillip Hoose dedicates his book to “young people everywhere who find the courage to make up their own minds.” Keeping in mind this quotation and the cover of the book, imagine how the members of the Churchill Club may have used courage in their struggles.
2. Hoose plays his themes against one another—almost mirroring a war. How does he create a “battle” between innocence and loss of innocence? What specific examples convey this conflict? Why might Hoose use this technique in his writing? How does it make you feel?
3. Why was Denmark so important to the Nazis? Refer to the maps on pages 16 and 24 to support your discussion.
4. On page 19, Hoose refers to Hitler’s words, “He alone who gains the youth, owns the future.” Why were young people so important to Hitler? Do you agree with this statement? Debate. Where else have you seen young people play such an important role?
5. Why was it critical to the club that Danish citizens see that “someone was not giving in” to the Nazis (p. 40)?
6. Do you agree with the members of the club that keeping secrets from their parents about their actions was necessary and acceptable? Are secrets ever okay?
7. Define empathy with your class. Where do we see examples of empathy in the book? Should empathy be a part of war? Why or why not?
8. Discuss the differences between fiction and nonfiction. Can nonfiction be biased? How? What are some examples of facts from the story? What are some examples of opinions? How might someone else remember the same story? What could affect his/her memory? How does Hoose’s choice to intersperse Knud’s own words into the story affect the story? Why might Hoose have chosen this structure?
9. What were Danish citizens’ differing views about the Churchill Club? Imagine you were a Danish citizen during World War II. What might your opinion have been? Defend your position. Why do you think there were multiple views about the Club’s actions?
10. How do Knud and other members of the club lose a part of themselves in prison? How does it seem to affect them later in life? How can we compare their struggles with soldiers returning home from war?
11. On the night of Winston Churchill’s award ceremony, Knud reads his invitation. The title on the cardstates “Knud Pedersen, Member of the Churchill Club” (p.166). Knud was very proud. In your own life, if you were given a card like this, what title would be listed on it that would make you proud? Why?
From the publisher, McMillan
On the Danish Resistance:
Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon
Courage & defiance : stories of spies, saboteurs, and survivors in World War II Denmark, by Deborah Hopkinson.
Rescuing the Danish Jews : a heroic story from the Holocaust Byers, Ann.
Other Works by the Author:
Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
The Race to Save the Lord God Bird
We Were There, Too!: Young People in U.S. History
Perfect, Once Removed: When Baseball Was All the World to Me
About the Author:
Phillip Hoose is the author ofClaudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, a National Book Award winner, a Newbery Honor Book, a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, a YALSA Finalist for Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction, and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. His other books include
Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95, also a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book; and We Were There, Too!: Young People in U.S. History, a National Book Award finalist. Mr. Hoose lives in Portland, Maine.