A young Parisian joins the French Resistance in this Boys of Wartime series entry.
Motivated equally by patriotism, hatred for the occupying boches and a desire to win the esteem of his absent father, Michael joins a friend in distributing taunting leaflets. His involvement in Resistance activities soon escalates into helping captured British and American airmen make their way to Spain. At first he acts only as a courier of forged identity documents, but later he helps first to slip a Jewish neighbor’s child out of the city, then hides an ailing American fugitive in his family’s apartment before accompanying him south over the Pyrenees. Meanwhile, he serves as a witness to the anxieties and physical hardships of wartime life under the Nazis, while seeing friends, neighbors and his own older brother taken away and ultimately earning sufficient self-esteem to lose his dependence on his father’s regard. Calkoven’s characters are simplified types, but she crafts an action-oriented plot that is suspenseful without being explicitly violent and is also well stocked with carefully researched details. A timeline and multiple notes at the end provide quick overviews of the tale’s historical background and the war’s overall course.
An absorbing adventure that wears its twin informational and character-development loads lightly. (map, glossary, reading list) (Historical fiction. 10-12)