Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Big War: Snow Treasure

It is late winter of 1940 in the Norwegian village of Riswyk, and although the children still enjoy the fun of a daily sled run down the local mountain, the threat of the German invasion hangs over the town like a cloud. As Nazis parachute into the area and set up a base near the shore, the Norwegians prepare a daring plan to spirit their national wealth, in the form of thousands of gold bullion bricks, from its hiding place in a concealed cave high in the hills to the fjord where it can be taken to the United States for safekeeping.

Local schoolchildren, led by twelve-year-old Peter Lundstrom and Helga Thomsen, are chosen for this dangerous venture. Loading as many bricks as they dare on each sled, the children conceal their contraband by belly-flopping and sledding down the mountain past the Nazi guards and bury the gold beneath snowmen which they build near the shore. Under cover of darkness each night, Peter's Uncle Victor and his crew load the hidden gold on his ship, the Cleng Peerson.

Helped by a late spring blizzard, the children continue their daily mission throughout April of 1940. On their final run, they hide the last of the bullion under hastily constructed snowmen as the Nazi Commandant and a military detail approach. As the Nazi officer comes perilously close to exposing the gold by contemptuously kicking their snowmen, Peter bravely diverts his attention with a well-thrown snowball. Captured and locked away in the German barracks, Peter is rescued by a turncoat Polish soldier sympathetic to the Norwegians and manages to swim to Uncle Viktor's boat in the frigid Arctic waters. Because it is too dangerous to go back, Peter makes the perilous voyage to America with Norway's gold.

Written in 1942 and based on a true story of the Norse Resistance, this is an old-fashioned adventure story with tight but effective characterizations. Adults are decisive and heroic; the children are trusting and courageous; and the suspense builds as the children race the spring thaw to complete their mission under the very noses of the occupying forces of the enemy. Written for younger readers than many World War II novels, Snow Treasure offers an exciting read about a little-documented aspect of the Big War.

Labels: ,


  • This 48-year old remembered this book instantly just from the description. I read it more than once when I was a kid. It really does capture the imagination. After all, what kid doesn't enjoy a story about getting one over on clueless grown-ups?

    By Blogger Brother J, at 9:37 PM  

  • I read this book as kid as well, and remembered it from the title. I highly recommend it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:39 PM  

  • Yep Im 47 and I remember this book well!! I loved it and counted it among my favorites! I dont even know how many times I read it!

    By Blogger Mrs. Darling, at 9:52 PM  

  • Had you already planned on blogging about this book when I posted a comment on it in your last WW2 book review?

    Honestly, since I commented, I've been thinking I'd like to buy a copy and read it again. It really is one of those stories that just works.

    By Anonymous Teresa, at 10:09 PM  

  • A terrific story. An elementary-school teacher read it aloud to us, a chapter per Friday, over the course of nearly a year. It was the best part of the week.

    By Blogger Southern Man, at 10:11 PM  

  • I LOVED this book as a child.

    I might even say that book is among the books that led to my lifelong fascination with WWII.

    By Blogger Mary Martha, at 10:22 PM  

  • Grew up reading this book. You might also enjoy "RADAR Commandos" - Also written for kids and also based upon a true story.



    By Blogger Orion, at 11:04 PM  

  • As a children's librarian, I instantly recalled the book and could see the cover before I came to the website (I took the link from Glen's page). What courage these children had. The book "Number the Stars" is also a fabulous junior fiction book (based on fact)about WWII and the underground in Norway...great book that I often recommend to students.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:32 PM  

  • This was my absolute favorite book when I was around 9! I have been pleased to see it on most lists of *good books for homeschoolers studying WW2* and my four children also have fond memories of it.

    By Anonymous liquid, at 5:43 AM  

  • Mid-30s Mom, also an officer in the military.

    I came here from the Instapundit link. Immediately recognized the title and remember this book well. Really enjoyed it! I think I was a tween when I read it.

    Thanks for the reminder: I'll ask for this at the bookstore, and maybe donate a copy to my kid's school.

    Off-topic: My eldest daughter received the "Little House on the Prairie" series for Christmas. I was surprised to find myself enjoying re-reading them. There are life lessons and history bits that I did not realize I was learning at the time.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:45 AM  

  • Great book! I remembered it instantly, too! Man, there needs to be a movie of all that sledding....

    Still, the coolest resistance book for kids was Spies of the Revolution. (Even if that CIA codebreaker couple that wrote it was nutty about Shakespeare/Bacon.)

    By Blogger Maureen, at 8:36 AM  

  • Maybe I can use the excuse that I am over 60: I loved this book as a child but have never been able to remember the title. Thank you so much for putting me on the right track -- I'll be looking for a copy!

    By Anonymous Labradog, at 8:37 AM  

  • oh, I LOVED this book! So much that I "liberated" it from my classroom. Oh, dear.

    By Anonymous Sarah, at 8:47 AM  

  • Another great book, same author is "All Aboard for Freedom" about kids who use a train to escape from Communist Czechosolvakia. I think it's out of print, anyone know where you can get a copy?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:24 AM  

  • The best kids book written about WWII. I loved it as a kid and loved reading it to my kids (several times).

    By Blogger Václav Patrik Šulik, at 9:49 AM  

  • Off-topic question (I didn't see an email address): Can you recommend a book about the American Revolutionary War that would be appropriate for a ten-year old boy who reads well? Our family will be going to Yorktown this summer; and I'd like for my son to have some appreciation of what he is going to see.

    Thanks, Larry G

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:39 AM  

  • Yes, this and "Escape from Warsaw" were the hot items when I was in third grade.

    That was a while ago, natch.

    By Anonymous tom swift, at 10:45 AM  

  • So happy to find your blog - I have a ten year old boy who reads anywhere from 4th - 8th grade levels but I'm not ready for him to read about teen issues yet so always looking for good books written on his own level. Thank you!

    By Blogger Beth, at 10:46 AM  

  • Great book - I remember this as one of my favorites from my childhood.

    By Blogger Glen, at 12:45 PM  

  • I'm 68 and I loved this book too.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:29 PM  

  • Dear Larry G.,
    Start with Newbery Honor book MY BROTHER SAM IS DEAD.

    By Blogger GTC, at 4:06 PM  

  • Thanks to all of you who shared your childhood memories of this book. The fact that it has been continuously in print attests to its staying power. The fact that we all remember it so well shows that it struck a chord with us!

    In re-reading it I was also struck with how much autonomy was matter-of-factly given to the children in carrying out the plan. Would modern children be brave (and physically sturdy) enough to perform as well?

    By Blogger GTC, at 4:14 PM  

  • Larry G,

    My favorite book about the Revolutionary War (although it doesn't have anything to do with Yorktown) is Esther Forbes' Johnny Tremain. (It relates the events leading up to the outbreak of war in Boston).

    By Blogger Václav Patrik Šulik, at 2:31 PM  

  • Thank you GTC and Václav!

    Sincerely, Larry G

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:43 PM  

  • Since everyone is revealing their age, I'm 50 and also first read this book in elementary school--I still have that copy and I am currently reading it aloud to my eight and ten year old sons. Each chapter ends on a rather suspenseful note, so they want to keep reading and reading each evening. I loved this book--what a story of heroism and courage! It was a Scholastic Book that I ordered from school, and I am so pleased that I kept it to now share with my sons. It's good to know others are also enjoying it and have similar good memories of this book from their childhood.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:20 PM  

  • As a teacher this was one of my favorite educational read-aloud books. It never failed to hook the kids. It's great, and I hope today's kids enjoy it too.

    By Blogger Natalie, at 5:35 PM  

  • I was doing some research on the web when I came across this page. I am 50 and also remember reading this book in elementary school and day-dreaming about sledding down the mountains of Norway lying on top of gold bars! It was a great book and brings back back some fond memories

    By Blogger Robbie, at 10:14 AM  

  • I have read this book to several of my middle school classes and they all said that it was the best book they have ever read! It is a wonderful story that inspires kids everywhere. I wish someone would make it into a movie and stay true to the book.

    By Blogger friezme, at 11:35 AM  

  • i've been looking for this book/movie for years now.i saw this during my elementary years.all i can remember was their Uncle Victor.greetings from the Philippines

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:04 AM  

  • Excellent post, I loved this book is amazing! I thinkt that it is a great book, the story of a Norwegian village is so interesting and very nice to read, in my opinion it is one of the best books for kids or any age.


    By Anonymous Retin-A Online, at 11:18 AM  

  • Honestly it's the first time that I heard about this book and I am really motivated. I would like to read this one.

    Best regards,

    By Anonymous How Does Viagra Works, at 11:21 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home