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.