Review Blog

Mar 03 2014

Hero on a bicycle by Shirley Hughes

cover image

Walker Books, 2013. ISBN 9781406336115.
(Age: 11+) Recommended. War. Resistance. While his English mother and his sister, Constanza lie awake at night waiting for him to come home, Paolo cycles into Florence from their home, avoiding the many pitfalls that lie in wait for unsuspecting travelers during the last year of World War Two. His own father has joined the partisans in the hills, his family is looked upon with suspicion because their mother is English and their few friends have deserted them.
The war background is described in some detail, as the family goes about its business, waiting for the war to end, hoping their father comes back alive and well. But one night when two men intercept Paolo telling him to pass on a message to his mother, things change dramatically. Pressured into harbouring POW's, the family finds they are involved more deeply than they want to be, and it is Paolo and his bicycle that run the greatest risk.
Taking them into the city the following day, they walk into a trap and one is captured the other returned to the cellar. With Joe hidden, the family risks all, and tension fills the air when the Gestapo comes by ready to search their property.
This is an exciting read of a family pushed to helping the resistance during World War Two. With a fully described background and the fact that it is based upon a family that Hughes knew, the situation will enthrall the readers.
Fran Knight

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