Village of Scoundrels

Margi Preus. Amulet, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0897-8
Preus’s WWII novel, based on historical accounts, takes place in a remote village in southeastern France where Jewish teenagers rescued from concentration camps are hiding in plain sight. Housed, fed, and educated by the residents, the teens become actively engaged in their secret missions to help other Jews escape—conveying messages, forging papers, smuggling people across the border. Because of its isolation, the plateau village escapes notice as a hotbed of Resistance activity until its students write a letter to Vichy’s Minister of Youth declaring their intention to shield the Jews among them. Soon after, a French policeman arrives, followed by convalescing German troops, bringing the villagers’ activities under increasing scrutiny. Preus (The Bamboo Sword) weaves the teens’ backstories and individual dreams into the mounting dangers each faces and poignantly renders the quietly courageous and supportive community, including a precocious 10-year-old who plays a key role in the dramatic climax. Featuring adolescent wartime activists, this is an inspiring narrative founded on a real-life community and individuals, as explained in the extensive epilogue that tells the detailed histories of the village and the people on whom the characters are based. Ages 10–14. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/26/2019
Release date: 02/25/2020
Genre: Children's
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