My family read Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan once, and then I read it again, and then I listened to it on tape three times after that. One of the many things that makes World War II interesting (and very sad) is how many countries were affected. You may know everything about what it was like to live in Germany during World War II, but what about Estonia? Papua New Guinea? Russia?
Snow Treasure is based on the true story of what can be accomplished with teamwork, courage, and a bunch of kids who are willing to make sacrifices for others. The year is 1940. Germany has invaded Norway, and it’s affecting the security and happiness of twelve-year-old Peter Lundstrom and his family, friends, and neighbors. Norway is hiding a secret not yet known to the Nazis: nine million dollars worth of gold stashed away in a local bank. That much money in the hands of the German army could do serious damage to Norway and other countries. So Peter’s uncle devises a strategy for smuggling the gold out of the country and getting it to the United States…all right under the noses of the Nazis.
Peter is appointed leader of a group of children. Together, they’ll pack the bricks of gold in snow, place them on their sleds, and coast from the bank down the mountainside to the fjord below. There, they’ll casually conceal the bricks under the guise of building snowmen. At dark Peter’s uncle will retrieve the gold and transport it to his fishing boat in the fjord. This gutsy process will take many weeks to complete due to the huge amount of gold. Will Peter’s brave band of school friends maintain its cover for that long? How will they make the daily trip without arousing suspicion from the nosy Germans posted along their route? If the are caught, they all understand how deadly their punishment could be. Each child and his or her family is at risk. But the gold must be exported, and this is the only possible method.
Glide with Peter and his friends down the mountain as they make their courageous sled run day in and day out. Hold your breath during each uneasy conversation they engage in with the Nazi soldiers. Chuckle at the creative schemes they devise to squeeze extra sled trips in.
Besides telling an incredible story, Snow Treasure provides a good window into life under Nazi occupation. Curfews and other laws enforced affected daily life for Norwegians. Nothing felt safe anymore. Peter Lundstrom is one of just many children impacted by World War II. Reading his story is a reminder of how blessed we are to live in freedom. Peter and his friends also demonstrate sacrificial courage and a willingness to put themselves at risk for the greater good, qualities we see dwindling in today’s generation.
I highly recommend Snow Treasure as an exciting and educational family read aloud.
Recommended read-aloud age: all ages
Recommended read-alone age: 9 and up