CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 21 . . . . June 20, 2003
While wandering in the woods, they stumble upon a road the Nazis are building using the forced labour of members from Eva village. Night after night, they are drawn to this site until, one night, the anti-Nazi partisan soldiers capture them. The children go on to join forces with the partisan soldiers and whenever possible bring them information, food, clothing and medicine.
There is never a dull moment in this story which is suspenseful, dramatic and action packed. Again Kathy Kacer (author of The Secret of Gabi's Dresser, a story set earlier in the same conflict) has crafted a story around a little known piece of World War II history. Her writing is stronger in this second tale and is geared at an older audience. The battle scenes are vivid and the human interactions compelling. There is a jolt to the reader when the narration changes from third person to first person in the "Epilogue."
The story has a couple of inconsistencies. For example, Max is orphaned when the Nazis take his family away. He has a picture of them he is looking at when he and Gabi are first in their hiding place in January 1944. "If he had been home right now, his father would be returning from work in his bookstore and his mother would be making supper. He and his sister would start their homework." Historically, Jewish businesses had been taken over by June 1939, and a time after that Jewish children no longer attended school.
Another example is as follows: The first night they arrive in the town that harbours them, the children are allowed, against the wishes of their female hostess, outside to play. Eva takes a photograph of Gabi. A few pages earlier we are told it is pitch dark outside.
These inconsistencies may not be noticed by all readers; however, those that do will question the plausibility of some other events. This is a problem only because the reader is swept along with the adventures of the children and wants to accept that every heroic deed they perform is totally credible. We want to believe these children help to win the war. However, those that pick up on the discrepancies will still enjoy this thoroughly entertaining read. The Night Spies is a great book for both genders and a memorable read.
Ruth Scales McMahon is a professional children's librarian, the co-chair of the Rocky Mountain Book Award, and the mother of two young children.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.