The Whispering Town

Jennifer Elvgren, illus. by Fabio Santomauro. Kar-Ben, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4677-1194-4
Annet's family is part of the Danish resistance, hiding Jews in their cellar until the hidden refugees can escape by boat to Sweden. Unlike many stories set during the Nazi occupation, this one finds its protagonist, who narrates the story, an already accomplished insurgent: when her mother tells Annet, "There are new friends in the cellar," the girl knows whom to go to in the underground for additional food and even books for the young boy sheltering with his mother. These hushed requests inspire Annet to create a kind of whispering chain to guide the Jews to the harbor on a moonless night. Based on real events that unfolded in the Danish fishing town of Gilleleje, it's a story that feels urgent and refreshingly unsentimental. Elvgren (Josias, Hold the Book) never stops her reportorial storytelling for a speech about why these brave people are defying the Nazis—Annet just knows she has to act. Santomauro, who has a distinctly graphic novel sensibility, uses strong ink lines and a rich neutral palette (save for a few splashes of red) to convey a sense of secrecy, high stakes, and profound moral courage. Ages 7-11. Illustrator's agent: Advocate Art. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/27/2014
Release date: 02/01/2014
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