The Boys Who Challenged Hitler

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and The Churchill Club

By Phillip Hoose
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Available in Hardcover, eBook
Locate a copy at  Amazon | Indiebound |

About the Book
At the outset of World War II, Denmark did not resist German occupation. Deeply ashamed of his nation’s leaders, fifteen-year-old Knud Pedersen resolved with his brother and a handful of schoolmates to take action against the Nazis if the adults would not. Naming their secret club after the fiery British leader, the young patriots in the Churchill Club committed countless acts of sabotage, infuriating the Germans, who eventually had the boys tracked down and arrested. But their efforts were not in vain: the boys’ exploits and eventual imprisonment helped spark a full-blown Danish resistance. Interweaving his own narrative with the recollections of Knud himself, here is Phillip Hoose’s inspiring story of these young war heroes.


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Awards & Accolades
The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor
The Boston Globe-Horn Book NonFiction Honor Winner
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Kirkus Reviews 10 Teen Books You Can’t Miss This Summer 2015
Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year and Best Teen Book of the Year
Booklist Editor’s Choice
New York Public Library Notable Book
New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice
Washington Post Best Children’s Books of 2015
YALSA 2016 Nonfiction Award Nominations
Scholastic TAB Top 5 Buzz-worthy

★ “Hoose employs a format similar to that of his award-winning Claudette Colvin (BCCB 2/09), serving here as Knud Pedersen’s interviewer and editor, and supplying segues and insets while allowing Pedersen’s voice to carry the narrative. What an edge-of-your-seat narrative it is—and even more compelling for teen readers, who are the same age as the real-life protagonists.”
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

★ “This account of a little-known resistance movement in which Danish
adolescents stood up to their Nazi occupiers is an outstanding addition to
the WWII canon…Hoose brilliantly weaves Pedersen’s own words into the larger narrative ofDenmark’s stormy social and political wartime climate, showing how the astonishing bravery of otherwise ordinary Danish teens started something extraordinary.”
—Horn Book, starred review

“The book is well organized, effectively integrating Pedersen’s vivid descriptions of his group’s motives, determination, and sometimes foolhardy bravery within the larger narrative, which includes information about Denmark, the war, and the boys’ families and lives. Sidebars, detailed maps, and period photos supplement the text. Often reading like a thriller, this title puts a human face on the often-overlooked Danish Resistance….VERDICT A captivating work that will appeal to many readers.”
—School Library Journal, starred review

★ “…Their story is one of bravery in the face of constant danger and of increasingly meaningful acts of sabotage, including stealing weapons and destroying important German assets. How long, the reader wonders, will they be able to elude capture? That question and others are answered in this tale of remarkable bravery and determination. Told in both the author’s voice and that of Knud Pedersen himself (the latter culled from 25 hours of interviews and nearly 1,000 e-mail exchanges), this has a compelling immediacy that is enhanced by a generous collection of black-and-white period photographs. An important and unforgettable book that adds a significant chapter to the history of WWII.”
—Booklist, starred review

★ “…As he did in Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (2009), Hoose tells this largely unknown story with passion and clarity, providing exactly the right background information to contextualize events for readers. He makes excellent use of his extensive interviews with Pedersen, quoting him at length and expertly interweaving his words into the narrative to bring it alive. A superbly told, remarkable true story and an excellent addition to stories of civilian resistance in World War II. ”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “Hoose vividly recounts the true story of the courageous and brazen teens who inspired the Danish resistance movement in WWII…this gripping story quickly gathers momentum, and the shifts between narrators flow smoothly…bibliography and source notes conclude this inspiring account.”
Publisher’s Weekly, starred review

“There is a striking immediacy to the telling. An adult can only admire the intoxicating, foolhardy brashness of the young as they slipped pistols out of Nazis’ coat pockets or taught themselves about mortar grenades by disassembling one on the floor of an old monastery.” —New York Times Book Review

“These teenagers risked all—and lost much… a vivid account of the true adventures of seven prep-school students and their co-conspirators whose valor and pluck helped embolden their countrymen…Eventful and accessible, this energetic work of nonfiction for 12- to 18-year-olds will cheer the hearts of readers whatever their age.” —Wall Street Journal

“…this narrative is far more than a rousing real-life adventure tale. Ultimately, “The Boys Who Challenged Hitler” will stir readers to ask themselves whether they would have had the courage of Knud and Jens – two teenagers who risked everything to stand up to a real and extremely dangerous enemy.” —Christian Science Monitor

“Grainy archival photos personalize the past, but the power in this slice-of-history lies in its inspiring story and inspired storytelling. Bottom line: Kids can be heroes, too.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“…Hoose’s enlightening book contains plenty of tense moments but also features some lighter anecdotes. (At one point, the teens discover that the box they stole from a German barracks building contains dirty underwear, not gunpowder.) The book is a powerful testament to the brave acts of young people who risked their lives for the sake of their country.”
Washington Post

“Once again we owe a debt of gratitude to author Phillip Hoose for bringing us another true story about young people’s role in history.” —The Uncommon Corps: Champions of Nonfiction Literature for Children and Young Adults

“Teens will be inspired by the bravery this young man showed in the face of great danger.” —Shelf Awareness

“An incredible account of Danish teens frustrated by their country’s lack of resistance to Hitler’s forces who secretly take matters into their own hands.  The teens’ bravery, conviction, and willingness to take action against popular sentiment was the catalyst for an uprising by their countrymen. Powerful stuff…”   —Omnivoracious, Amazon’s Book Review Blog