Friday, March 13, 2020

Village of Scoundrels

Preus, Margi. Village of Scoundrels
February 25th 2020 by Amulet Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

I'm not doing this justice because I had a lot of trouble with the E ARC (there are some lovely chapter drawings similar to the cover), and going back to get the names of the characters proved to be difficult.

Life in a remote French village in 1942 is going on without too many problems from the Nazis. The local people are very invested in saving Jews, and there is even a school with a lot of children who have been smuggled out. Everyone is involved; the local minister, the teachers, and local farmers, who have more food than is available in other places. The Jewish population have assumed other identities, often complete with papers, and the Resistance movement is an open secret, with talented forgers working on documents and people traveling through the town on their way to Switzerland. When a new officer, Perdant, comes to town, he is determined to find out what is going on and "follow the laws". Since he is able to be outwitted even by ten year old boys, he doesn't get very far, but he does add a level of anxiety to the situation. Based on a true story, there are a variety of experiences portrayed, and the epilogue, which ties in the real people to the characters in the book, is complete with pictures.
Strengths: This was a slightly different take on France during the war, since the village was small and remote. Because the situation wasn't quite as dire with food and Nazis living in the are (think Don't Tell the Nazis), the characters are able to focus more on moving people out of the country. There are a wide variety of characters representing a lot of different roles, and their interactions are woven together well.
Weaknesses: It's helpful to have books that can be informative to both middle school and high school readers, but this was not an easy read for middle schoolers who struggle a bit. It's a bit longer, and there is a lot of information. I found it a bit hard to keep the characters straight.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing. I still need a lot of books about WWII, and the French Resistance is a favorite topic of mine, since it involves a lot of suspense even if there are not as many battles, which makes it a popular choice for a wider variety of my readers. And I did check out this author's Heart of a Samurai AND Shadow on the Mountain this week!
Ms. Yingling

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